2009 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


2009 National DNA Day Online Chatroom Transcript

The 2009 National DNA Day Moderated Chat was held on Friday, April 24th, 2009 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern. NHGRI Acting Director Alan Guttmacher, M.D. and genomics experts from across the institute and around the nation took questions from students, teachers and the general public on topics ranging from basic genomic research, to the genetic basis of disease, to ethical questions about genetic privacy.


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498
If a mother has AIDS, is her child guaranteed to have AIDS as well?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. There have been a lot of advances in HIV/AIDS research and treatment. One of these advances includes medications that reduce the transmission of HIV from mother to baby to a 2% or less chance.
Bergen County Academies in NJ (9th grade student)
499
Can introducing animal genes into a fetus or person give it that animals physical or behavioral characteristics?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. Theoretically it would be possible to insert animal genes into an embryo that would result in animal proteins being expressed; an example would be a jellyfish protein called Green Fluorescent Protein, which glows green. However, it is illegal to insert animal genes into embryos for the purpose of creating a human being. Behavioral characteristics are much more complex and aren't controlled by single genes, so that would not be possible.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
500
Do you think gene therapy for cancer or again will cause the creation of zombies like in i am legend or resident evil?
     Barry H. Thompson, M.D., M.S.: As Medical Director at AMCG, I am responsible for activities such as professional practices, clinical guidelines, and ethical aspects of clinical genetics. No. Gene therapy for cancer and other disorders, when possible and of utility, will not result in phenotypic changes - like zombies!
Mid-Praire High School in WI (12th grade student)
501
Who nis the founder of the human genome project. What solutions are used to extract DNA.
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. The head of the government's Human Genome Project was Francis Collins, and James Watson was one of the first to suggest the idea. Craig Venter was the lead scientist on a human genome project conducted in the private sector.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
502
I remember in grade school the local police came and took all our fingerprints, presumably our prints are all in a database now for use in criminal investigations. Will we one day be taking genetic samples of everyone? If so, is there the potential for abuses of privacy or our rights?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. What a great question! While genetic profiling will never be done the way you see it on TV shows, you are right on to pick up on public's concern about privacy. Did you know that all newborns in the USA are screened for ~29 disorders at the time of birth? Blood spots are collected in the nursery by pricking the newborn's heel and putting drops pf blood on filter paper cards, where they are sent to the State newborn screening lab. Right now, medical geneticists who want to do research on the conditions in newborn screening, for example to make the current tests better and to add new tests to the panel, are debating how to use these leftover (residual) blood spots in an ethical manner, such that privacy is always protected.
Somerville HS in NJ (9th grade student)
503
is being straight hereditary?
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. I assume you are referring to sexual orientation, a complex trait that, as with all such traits, results from a combination of multiple genetic and environmental factors.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
504
Is there such a thing as a genetic experiment gone wrong? Can you name examples?
     Jonathan Gitlin, Ph.D.: I keep abreast of developments in the field of genomics and genetics, and the policy implications of those developments. I conduct analyses on programs undertaken by NHGRI and prepare reports that are used by the institute, the Department of Health and Human Services, and members of Congress for determining future research priorities and for funding. There are certainly experiments that don't work, as anyone who works in a lab will know. If by 'gone wrong' you mean trying to insert a gene into a cell or animal unsuccessfully then yes. However if you mean accidently creating the Incredible Hulk then no.
Zack Grigsby in AL ()
505
] What do you specialize in?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. I'm a genetic counselor and I work in general genetics. A genetic counselor helps families understand the information and adapt to getting a diagnosis. This means that I see both kids and adults who have multiple health problems that may or may not have a genetic cause. I also see patients who have hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia, which is a condition that causes veins and arteries to be connected differently. This can cause strokes, nosebleeds, and other serious health problems.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
506
does dNa taste good
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. I don't know, I've never eaten pure DNA, but my guess is that it would have little or no taste.
MR.T in ME (5th grade )
507
What is RNA?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. RNA stands for RiboNucleic Acid. It's a nucleic acid like DNA made of a phosphate backbone and a base. It has many purposes in the cell, but probably its biggest role is to transfer the information about gene sequences from the genome (DNA) to the ribosomes which make proteins.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
508
How can human genome help us understand prion diseases and other disorders such as the lysosomal disorders etc?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Lysosomal storage disorders have a genetic basis and are generally very rare. Understanding what genes and what gene mutations cause these diseases provides hints about how to treat the disease. More and more understanding of the biochemical pathways in which the mutated gene functions helps with ideas for new treatments. Prion disorders are very interesting - clearly there are genes that encode prion-like proteins that help in normal cellular function. Study of these genes and their function is shedding light on how abnormal prion proteins cause disease.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
509
What does DNA stand for?
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. Much easier to say DNA! The long name has to do with the kind of molecule it is.
Prairie High School in WA (12th grade student)
510
What is the Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome and how much it's possibilities (1 per ...). And why it's considered horrifying disorder ever?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. Lesch-Nyhan syndrome is an X-linked disorder that has a prevalance of 1:380,000. It causes severe mental retardation and motor delays. I don't know that it can be called the most horrifying disorder ever, but boys with LH do often cause injury to themselves, which may be very frightening to those around them.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
511
is it possible to do a second genome project?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Absolutely. In fact, there are a number of genome projects currently ongoing for different species. With regards to humans, we are genotyping representatives from many different populations from across the globe.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
512
Can you develop Tay Sacs when you are older, or does it always happen before u r a toddler?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. There is an adult-onset Tay-Sachs disease. Symptoms of the adult-onset form include muscle wasting, weakness, and sometimes dementia.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
513
is it possible to do a second genome project?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. There are several additional genome projects in progress. Many are devoted to sequencing the genomes of other species. Some are sequencing the genomes of individuals (for example, the 1000 Genomes Project), while still others are looking closely at sections of human genomes to determine how much variation there is.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
514
Is it possible that geneticists can map a dinosaur genome from dinosaur bones (Collagen and Bone marrow)?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. While there have been some absolutely amazing recent projects extracting DNA from the bones of Neandertals and mammoths that have been extinct for thousands of years that kind of work is very difficult because DNA degrades over time. Dinosaurs died millions of years ago so it's unlikely that DNA would have survived that long. Even with the neandertals and mammoths there's lots of contamination from bacteria, mutations, and breaks in the DNA that make it very technically difficult.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
515
Bergen County Academies in NJ (9th grade student)
516
I'm really into genetics, and am interested in pursuing it as a potential career. I, however, am hesitant to tell any of my friends because I'm kind of a "jock". Are people in your field into sports (on the side), or are most into stuff like Dungeons and Dragons and Ham Radio?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. Hi, thanks for your question. The field of genetics is very exciting and having a diverse background is ideal. Scientists have many interests outside of the field. You should not be embarrassed about sharing your interest in science, but rather work to foster that.
Branchburg HS in NJ (10th grade student)
517
What is the human genome?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. The human genome refers to all of the genetic information represented by the 23 chromosomes found in human cells.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Heather Junkins. Her work involves the new field of genome wide association studies.


519
Are having veins on your muscles genetic?
     Greg Feero, M.D., Ph.D.: I work to help make emerging genetic technologies more accessible to health professionals. Yes - your muscles need blood from arteries to carry in nutrients and oxygen. Veins take blood that has been stripped of oxygen and nutrients away from the muscle. Veins also carry away waste products that if allowed to build up would prevent the muscle from working. The growth and pattern of arteries and veins is under genetic control, though this control is not fully understood. The ability to grow new arteries and veins is important for the growth of certain cancers, and blocking this growth is a possible way to treat some cancers. Growth of blood vessels is known by a fancy term - angiogenesis.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
520
When they cloned Dolly the sheep how many surrogate mothers did they go through?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. I don't know how many surrogates there were, but I do remember that it took more than 270 attempts to produce Dolly, the first cloned mammal. Researchers have become much more efficient at mammalian cloning, but it's still a difficult task.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Praveen Cherukuri, who works in the Comparative Genomics Unit at NHGRI. He studies sequence variation in relation to proteins.


523
I want to use DNA studies for the degradation of xenobiotics. What techniques should I learn?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. I would examine techniques that involve immunochemistry and assays for a particular xenobiotic that you are investigating.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
524
octoploid, what does that mean
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Ploidy refers to the number of sets of chromosomes that a cell (or organism) has. For example humans are all diploid meaning that we have two copies of almost all the DNA in our cells; one copy from our mothers and one copy from our fathers. Some plant and animal genomes are called polyploid because they have more than two copies of most genes. Plants, for some reason, seem to frequently tolerate development with more than two copies of their genomes. An octoploid cell or organism would have 8 copies of most genes.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
525
When someone dies does DNA die immediately or does it remaning for sometime.
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Actually, DNA itself is not alive. DNA is a molecule that directs the way a cell functions. Once the cell dies, DNA will persist for some period of time, depending on what happens to the cells around it (and the organism as a whole). In some cases, DNA has been recovered from fossils and amber that is millions of years old. However, most DNA degrades relatively quickly after an organism dies.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
526
Is there a way to genetically create another brilliant mind like Stephen Hawking? Ya know, but without all the retarded stuff.
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. We have no idea how to produce another mind as extraordinary as Dr. Hawking's. His intellect is a complex product of his genes and his unique environmental history. Be careful of labels. Dr. Hawking suffers from a serious neurological disorder, Lou Gehrig's disease (also known as amyoptropic lateral sclerosis -- ALS). This has affected him in many ways, but, as you point out, his mind is just fine.
Ricky Waivers in NJ (11th grade student)
527
what is the role and ethics of genetic counseling? prevent illness or reengineer?
     Kimberly Barr, M.S.: My work involves content development and mangement for our Regional Genetics Web site and development of education materials for Kaiser members and providers. Another aspect to my job includes outreach to the community, which has included lectures to medical students. The role of genetic counseling is neither to prevent illness nor "reengineer" a person's genes. Genetic counselors provide information and support to individuals and families with genetic conditions or those who may be at risk for a genetic condition. The way the information is received and used is very individual. In some cases this is offers the opportunity to make important medical decisions based on personal values. In other cases, it may mean better understanding of a family member's genetic disorder.
Phil in IL ()
528
Do you think that the human genome project made many advances or that it was just a waste of time?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. The Human Genome Project (HGP) has been a tool for many advances that have been made and will be made in the future as researchers translate genes into health. Not only has the information quickened the pace of scientific discovery, it has also contributed to our understanding of health and illness. The hope is that researchers will learn as much about staying healthy with knowledge from the HGP as they will about treating illness.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
529
How similar are ALD (adrenal leuko dystrophy) and Tay Sacs?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. The symptoms of ALD and Tay-Sachs are actually pretty similar. Both conditions often manifest as decreased attentiveness or hyperactivity, and progressive impairment of vision, hearing, behavior, and cognition. However, there are some differences between the two conditions. For instance, the conditions have different inheritance patterns. ALD is inherited in an X-linked manner, so males are more affected than carrier females. Tay-Sachs disease is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, so both males and females are affected. Also, X-linked ALD affects the nervous system white matter and the adrenal cortex. Tay-Sachs disease is caused by a build up of gangliosides which is toxic in the brain and spinal cord.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
530
Would it be possible to create dinosaurs through the small samples of DNA that have been collected?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow The short answer is no. There are a number of factors that would have to be taken into consideration. For example, the DNA retrieved from fossilized specimens are fragmented and not complete, which would make it nearly impossible to clone since you would be "missing" many pieces to the puzzle.
Terra Linda High School in CA (12th grade student)
531
Is there DNA in sugarless ketchup?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Yes. There's DNA in all of our food since most of it comes from living things. Every living organism has DNA in it to carry its genetic code. Every plant and animal has DNA in it including those that we eat.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Joining us now is Katheryn Jones, a genetic counselor who often helps patients seeking information about genetic tests.


533
How was DNA discovered?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. Great question, although the answer is a complicated one! Humans have known about DNA since the 1800's, although at that time they did not know how important it was, or even that it was called "DNA." As the years passed, many different scientists did lots of research on DNA. Some discovered that it was the genetic material in humans, and then some went on to discover the shape of DNA. You may know the names James Watson, and Francis Crick. These two men were important in helping to discover DNA as we know it today, but it actually took many many other people, such as Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin, to help them get to this discovery. You can read more about Watson, Crick and the rest on the internet and many science books. Good luck!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
534
What are the most common genetic disorders?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. The most common aneuploidy is Down syndrome (Trisomy 21) which occurs in about 1/600 newborns. Hereditary hemochromatosis is a recessive disorder of iron storage that happens in about 1/300 - 1/400 people.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Claire Noll, a genetic counselor who works with cardiovascular genetics.


536
Is there are any credence to the argument that genetically modified foods are dangerous, or is "Frankenfruit" just an uninformed over-reaction? Becuase I really wish they would modify chickens to replace their wings with more legs - everyone could get a drumstick!
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. The jury is out on this; there is a lot of research examining the pros and cons of GMO foods. I think it is best to wait for the research results. The definition of a GMO food is loosely defined and still under review. Corn is an example of a GMO food.
Rano Banerjee in RI (12th grade student)
537
can we clone a clone?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. Asexual reproduction, for example, bacterial fission, can produce clones from clones, generation after generation. As for higher organisms, several years ago, scientists reported that they cloned the cloned offspring of a bull.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
538
Advances in technology and the understanding of DNA have enabled for the identification of genes that cause cancer and other diseases. How soon can we turn those genes 'off' so that once identified, they can no longer code for their particular disease.
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. Many genes have been identified to play a role in cancer. They work in different ways. Targeted pharmacogenomic medicines will probably be useful sooner than turning genes off.
American History HS in NJ (teacher)
539
Is there a genetic cause for pulmonary fibrosis?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. Pulmonary fibrosis can be familial, meaning that two or more first degree relatives are affected. There are a few gene changes that have been associated with familial pulmonary fibrosis, but not all of the genes associated with the condition are known.
East Haven High School in CT (teacher)
540
About how many disesase are there in DNA?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. We know there are many thousands of genes, but we don't even know what they all are yet! There are also thousands of genetic disorders, with more described all of the time!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
541
Can a protein be coded by more then one gene?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. For every rule in science, there are exceptions. Historically, scientists thought that the one gene coded for one and only one protein. As we have learned more through research, we recognize that one gene can code for multiple proteins and that there are some genes that are found in multiple copies throughout the genome. There are also examples of different genes coding for proteins that are very similar, such as those that code for different types of hemoglobins that are the structures that carry iron in red blood cells.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
542
in schlieden's theory, how does his second point connect with RNA function
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow His second point refers to a cell being the most basic unit of life. RNA is found within a cell and, therefore, would contribute to the cell function.
anonymous in WY (10th grade student)
543
How did you come up with the names for DNA and mRNA?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. I personally didn't come up with the names for any of these :-) but the names come from the chemical description of nucleic acids. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. RNA stands for Ribonucleic Acid, and the m in mRNA stands for messenger. So mRNA is messenger ribonucleic acid. I have a feeling (but I'm not completely sure) that the ribo in ribonucleic refers to the ribose, the type of sugar that makes up the backbone of RNA and DNA, and nucleic acid refers to the fact that the nucleus of the cell is full of that stuff. Researchers discovered these things under the microscope before they knew what they were looking at.
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
544
Has it been determined weather or not allergies have been found in the genetic code?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. There is a genetic/hereditary component to allergies, but they are also influenced by environment.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
545
Can you get DNA out of an Orange? if yes, how?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. There a quite a few steps involved in extracting DNA. I have included a link that provides details for the method. http://www.genome.gov/DNADay/DNA_Programming_Kit_Manual.pdf
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
546
Can you mix the characteristics of two species and give a goat the ability to give out spider webs?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. Well, wouldn't that be interesting!! What you are describing is the use of transgenic animals, which is where a gene from one animal is inserted into the DNA of another. And one of the ideas of using this technology would be to give a goat the ability to produce spider silk in its milk. This silk can then be used to create incredibly strong substances.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
547
Selinsgrove in NV (9th grade student)
548
In the movie "Gattaca", the Human Genome Project basically determined our role and class in society. My question is, will the government, or society in general, really let this significant advancement in technology, which should benefit us for medical reasons only, determine our value in life?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. Great question! Neither the govenment nor society should determine a person's value, though both have important roles in the responsible use of scientific tools and technologies.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (10th grade student)
549
why is DNA made of strings?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Some images of DNA are referred to as pearls on a string. The pearls refer to the proteins used to package DNA and the string refers the DNA helix. DNA is actually made of nucleotides with backbones of sugars and phosphate groups.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
550
Do you think that human cloning will ever be legal? And would you do it?
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. It's hard to know whether human cloning will ever be legal, but there are more fundamental questions to answer first, for example: Are there good reasons to clone human beings? Would there be any benefits to individuals or society? Can we do this safely? What are implications for the future of the species? What are the ethical implications?
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
551
Is there a quantifiable amount of DNA change that can cause an over-all change in genotype then phenotype?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. It is hard to change a persons DNA. An example of how to change DNA is exposure to a carcinogen, which is something that can directly lead to cancer (examples are radiation, cigarette smoke, or asbestos). In this way, you can say that harming or changing someone's DNA can lead to a change in phenotype. I don't know of a quantifiable amount of DNA change that would need to occur, but it will most likely be different for every person. There is also so much information that is not known about other environmental agents that may play a role in harming someone's DNA. Gene therapy is another example of how we may be able to change a person's DNA so that they don't have a disease anymore. Although we don't have human gene therapy approved here in the United States right now.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (12th grade student)
552
How can humans have a 1% difference in our DNA and still look so different?
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. Good question! Our DNA is so important that even one little change between people can lead to a completely different looking person. For example, you can think about people with dwarfing conditions (like achondroplasia)- they have just one difference in one of their genes that leads them to look different than people of average height.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
553
Why isn't all DNA active? ~Maria
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. That's an excellent question, one that scientists are continuously asking each other. There are some scientists that argue that all DNA in a cell has a purpose of some sort or another. Evolution provides most of the "whys" in biology. We think that carrying around a little extra DNA is not such a burden that we can't handle carrying round the extra, so it hasn't been eliminated by natural selection.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
554
Why are DNA's strands twisted?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. Any large biological molecule (such as DNA, proteins, tRNA) needs stability within the cell, therefore assumes a form (structure) to maximize thermodynamic stability. DNA therefore exists as base-pairs on sugar-phosphate backbones (strands), in a helical (twisted) form. Just like DNA, proteins and tRNA have their own distinct structures.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
555
can you actually see the double helix and ladder when you put DNA under a microscope?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow The "ladder" refers to the chemical bonds between nucleotides that make up DNA. You can certainly see DNA under the microscope but in order to see the ladder rungs you would use a technique called X-ray crystallography.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
556
My sister has autism. Is it possible that I could carry the gene for it?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. Autism is what we call a "complex" condition, meaning that both genes and environment can cause autism. However, we know that in families where there is one child with autism, the chance that another child would also have autism is about 4-6%. If you are asking about whether or not you have a gene change that could cause autism in you, I would say that it is unlikely since you are in the 9th grade and you have not been diagnosed with autism. If you are asking whether or not your future child could inherit autism, I would say that this chance is low, although having a sister with autism may increase your chances above someone who does not have a sister with autism.
Lexington High School in SC (9th grade student)
557
Mother died of thorasic aortic aneurysm & husband survived abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). What part does genetics play and should family members be tested?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. Genetics can play a role in both thoracic and abdominal aneurysm. You should talk to your primary care physician (PCP) about a referral to a medical geneticist and genetic counselor, who would take a thorough family history and review your medical records before making any testing recommendations.
Judy in AZ ()
558
what is the concept of gene in post genomic era?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. The concept of a gene is loosely defined and scientists are revising this definition in light of current research.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
559
how can we link DNA with life as DNA is not alive
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. What an interesting question! I think it is fair to admit that we do not know all the secrets of life, but do know that DNA is a very important component. I think this is a question we all seek to answer in some way!
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
560
what happens when something goes wrong in DNA?
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. When a change happens in DNA, we call it a mutation. A mutation can lead to changes in the cell that the DNA is in. The cell can die from this change, or it can make copies of itself leading to more cells with the mutation in it. This happens all the time in our bodies and does not necessarily cause a problem. Sometimes it can lead to diseases like cancer, other times we never know it even happens in our bodies.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
561
How can you tell all the diseases a person might have just by looking at their DNA?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. Genetic testing is tailored to look for specific changes or mutations in DNA that are known to cause certain genetic disorders. You cannot tell about all diseases from any one genetic test.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
562
How many experts are working on answering all of our questions?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow A lot! We have dozens of experts participating in DNA Day.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
563
I want to be a nurse anesthetist. Is it important for me to know anything about DNA?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. Yes. As a nurse anesthetist you will be part of a health care team that is responsible for working with patients who will be undergoing procedures that require medications to put the patient to sleep. Reactions to medications are based, in part, on the specific coding of genes responsible for using (metabolizing) the specific medication. Individuals with certain genetic conditions are at higher risk for developing complications from anesthesia. These conditions include Down syndrome, some skeletal dysplasias (conditions that cause differences in how bones grow), and numerous others. There are also gene changes that impact how a specific medication is metabolized by the body. Given all of these possible complications, it is very important for all nurses, including nurse anesthetists, to understand both basic genetics concepts and specific information that interacts with your specialty. There is a nurses' society, International Society Of Nurse Geneticists (ISONG), that focuses on educating nurses about genetics.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
564
What role will epigenetic studies play in understanding cancer and its possible cure?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. Epigenetic studies can help us better understand the complexity of cancer development, which will be key in finding a cure.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
565
Is it possible to trace back a person's heritage through their DNA?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow It is possible to get an understanding of a person's genetic ancestry based on the DNA sequence of different parts of the genome.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining the chat is Kate Reed, who is a genetic counselor.


567
What are the main goals of development of genetic science ?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. Genetic science is seeking to find information about the underpinnings of variation among living organisms. There are many aspects of this field including evolution, disease focus, and functionality.
Olesya Okuneva, M.D., PhD. ()
568
In a video the gentleman said that "you pass something down which is why your children look like you". If your child doesn't look like you did something go wrong with the genes or with what was passed down?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. You do not have any control over which genes you pass on to your children. Every person gets half of their genes from each parent. How those genes combine to create specific features cannot be predicted based on parents' features. There are some children who have genetic conditions that no one else in the family has. In these cases, the genetic change may be new in the person affected. Nothing that either parent did or did not do could change whether a new mutation occurs. These happen, in most cases, by chance very early on in development.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
569
What is the defenition of a stem cell?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. Stem cells are unspecialized cells that have the potential to develop into many different types of tissue- or organ-specific cells with special functions.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
570
Have you found the cure for cancer? Will you be able to?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. Unfortunately the cure for cancer has not been found, but researchers are working very hard and many advancements have been made. For instance, knowing about the genetics of both the individual and the individual's tumor can help us pick the best treatment options for a person, which hopefully will result in a cure for the person's cancer.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
572
How did you learn to read the letters of DNA and make sure they're accurate?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. Fred Sanger, a very smart man, invented in the late 70's (1977) a way to sequence DNA. In other words, he taught us how to read the letters of DNA, using a method named "Sanger Sequencing". Like with any technology, we need to repeat the experiment to make sure the sequence is correct. Now we have other new technologies that sequence DNA at an amazingly fast pace for much less cost.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
573
How is it possible that one wrong letter can cause a baby to die?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. Very good question. It seems so simple on the surface, but our DNA is really very complex. We all have genes in our bodies that tell us how to grow and develop. Genes are made up of DNA, which are made from the letters that you are talking about (A, T, G, C). We all have some "letters" that are different from other people's "letters." Most of the time, the differences are not harmful. In fact, our different letters are what makes us unique from our friends, neighbors, etc. Sometimes, if the DNA change (the wrong letter), is in a very important gene, then that gene can no longer do what it is supposed to do. The result is that this one small change can have major consequences.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
574
Is it possible to create a new species by rearranging each individual nucleotides?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. In theory that should be possible, though it would be really really hard. We don't have the technology to arrange DNA base by base for very many bases in a row. There have been some experiments where researchers have painstakingly assembled base by base the DNA of a few very very small genomes of viruses or parasitic bacteria. Most of the manipulation of DNA that we do is either breaking apart or sticking together big pieces, or just a few nucleotides at a time. The other problem is we don't yet really know how to fit all the pieces of an entirely new species together. All the different genes interact in such complex ways that we're still at the beginning of understanding how living things work.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (12th grade student)
575
What can you tell me about the "blue people of Kentucky," and their genetic issues with hemoglobin?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. This is an autosomal recessive blood disorder called hereditary methemoglobinemia, caused by an absence of the enzyme diaphorase. Normally hemoglobin is converted to methemoglobin, and diaphorase is needed to convert methemoglobin back to hemoglobin. Methemoglobin is blue, so an excess of methemoglobin in the blood of fair skinned individuals makes their skin appear blue.
Bergen County Academies in NJ (9th grade student)
576
When was the human genome discovered?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Ed Ramos, Ph.D: The human genome refers to the 3 billion letters that code for our genetic information. We finished "reading" these letters at the end of the Human Genome Project in 2003.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
577
Who am i chatting with?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. You are chatting with a board certified genetic counselor who is interested in access to genetic services, genetics in public health, and public policy issues. I now spend my time working on these issues but before that I spent 20 years providing genetic counseling to people who either had, or were at risk for, genetic conditions in themselves or their children. Do you ever think about a career in medical genetics or genetic counseling? You might want to; there are not enough medical genetics professionals to provide the risk assessment, genetic counseling and testing services people will want in the future.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
578
Who invented the machine that can decode DNA
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. Allan Maxam and Walter Gilbert (Harvard) developed the first technique for gene sequencing. A number of people, including Lee Hood (then at Cal Tech), automated the technique in different ways and improved upon it along the way. These were among the earliest efforts to automate DNA decoding, which have evolved into technologies such as DNA chips for microarray analysis.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
579
Is their any part of our body that doesnt require DNA.
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. Our body is entirely made up of cells and each cell contains DNA. The DNA is essential for the growth and function of every single cell in our body. Therefore, there isn't any part of the body that doesn't require DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
580
In an extraction lab why do you mix the smashed fruit with a soapy salty solution?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. The soapy, salty solution is used to very gently break apart the cells of the fruit. When we do it in the lab we call it the lysis buffer because it breaks apart the cells to let the DNA out because the soap and salt help to dissolve the slightly oily membrane that surrounds the cell.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
581
If a scientist knows what letter is wrong and will create problems for a human, can they just take it out and replace it with the right one?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. That's an excellent question. Unfortunately, it's not that easy. For inherited disorders, it's important to remember that the mistake is present in every cell in the body. Even in cases where the mutation primarily affects only certain cell types, such as the muscle cells affected in muscular dystrophy, that is still a lot of cells. Current research on gene therapy most often focuses on getting correct genes to the target location so that they can express the correct protein.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
582
Any recent information on intron functioning or what effects introns play in DNA interpretation?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. Introns have a complex role and their functions are debated. For example, the relationships of introns to cancer and their role as a tumor markers are being examined.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (12th grade student)
583
Using DNA evidence, how far back in time can we be trace to our ancestors?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Homo sapiens is a species that has evolved from African ancestors. It is very difficult to say how much of the DNA sequence from early man still remains in individuals today.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (10th grade student)
584
My sister is suffering from Psoriasis. Will her children?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. There is not a clear cut answer. Psoriasis is a chronic disease of the immune system. Many immune disorders have a hereditary component to them. They will be at a higher risk than a person who does not have a first degree relative who is affected.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (Higher Education teacher)
585
How much does it cost to have your DNA tested for genetic diseases now?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. It is not yet possible to look for changes in all the 20,000-30,000 that every human has. Even if we could, we are still learning how changes in the DNA are associated with specific symptoms and diseases. We know that many common conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease, have both a genetic and an environmental component. For these conditions, having a specific genetic change does not mean that you will, for sure, develop the disease. It is possible to modify the environmental factors to decrease risk in many cases. We can look for changes in specific genes that we know are associated with specific, rare genetic conditions. These tests typically cost between $2000 and $3000 each, but can be much more, depending on the specific type of test.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
586
We are in the middle of the 6th mass extinction. As we continue to map out genomes for various organisms, could there be hope for the next version of man to have the technology to 'repopulate' the planet with the amazing organisms that have become extinct?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. The idea of recreating extinct populations is highly controversial and needs further examination.
American History HS in NJ (teacher)
587
Is it possible to have a recessive phenotype like red hair and still have a beautiful redheaded baby girl when the mother has brown hair?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. Yes, it is possible for a mother with brown hair to have a baby girl with red hair if she and the father of the baby carry a recessive allele for red hair.
Mack Jones in CA (Higher Education student)
588
Do humans have the same DNA as Animals? Shawne' Wellons
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow The nucleotides A, G, T, and C that make up DNA are also used in animals. However, the combination and sequence of letters that makes up genomes can be very different. But there are similarities! For example, there is a lot of shared sequence between chimps and humans.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
589
Can genetic engineering prevent baldness?
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. We know the genes involved in some types of baldness but not all of them. That is the first step in genetic engineering- knowing what genes are involved. Right now genetic engineering is focused on severe diseases, but it is hard to say what other traits may be focused on in the future. As geneticists, it is critical that we always consider the ethical implications of our work. Since genetically preventing certain traits in a person has risks associated with it (either for the embryo or adult) it is unlikely that we will soon use genetic engineering for features that are not life-threatening to the person.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (12th grade student)
590
Can gene therapy resolve the problem of psoriatic arthritis ?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. The cause of psoriatic arthritis is currently unknown. It is likely that a combination of genetic, immune, as well environmental factors are involved. The best candidates for gene therapy are conditions that arise from mutations in a single gene. However, gene therapy is considered experimental and there are obstacles to overcome before gene therapy becomes a common technique for treating disease.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
591
Why isnt every day DNA day?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. i wonder the same thing every day...we like to make sure DNA Day is a special occasion, celebrated once a year!
Clarksburg High School in MD (12th grade student)
592
Why are we spending to much money sequencing the genomes of so many other species when we already have the human genome sequence?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. We use the sequence of the genomes of other species for a number of reasons. One reason is that we use many different species to study biology. Since different species have different characteristics we can learn things from them that we can't necessarily learn from humans. Also we learn a lot by comparing the genome sequences of different species. The sequence of other species allows us to make comparisons between physical characteristics of a species and the genome sequence so we can see what DNA sequences are behind the similarities and differences between species. The more species we have sequenced the more information we have that can guide us to how genomes work and evolve.
Bergen County Academies in NJ (9th grade student)
593
What does all this mean for the non-scientific public?
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. Research in genetics is important for the public in many ways. For example, t can help shed light on the causes of health and disease; perhaps identify new mechanism for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease; tell us about the biological history of our species; and about the broader history of life on earth.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
594
How long is a strand of DNA?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. The average human genome DNA strand would be 6 feet long if we stretched it out completely.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
595
Could smoking while your pregnant affect the babies DNA?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. Smoking during pregnancy is known to lead to premature birth and low birth weight. We do not quite know whether smoking directly affects the baby's DNA although research is being conducted in this area. In general, we strongly advise against smoking during pregnancy.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
596
Do Genetic counselors help parents pick the perfect genes to make perfect babies like in the movie GATTACA?
     Judith Benkendorf, M.S., C.G.C: I work for a professional organization that represents the medical genetics physicians and genetic testing lab directors in the United States. I help write guidelines that become standards of care for the practice of genetic medicine, and engage in public health, public policy and educational activities that ensure that people have access to high quality genetic services. Thank you for asking this question so I can clear up a very common misconception. I have been a board certified genetic counselor for more than 25 years and I have never helped parents select the genes of their future offspring! Prospective parents seek genetic counseling because of an increased risk of a birth defect, mental retardation, or an inherited condition. Sometimes this risk is based on family history; other times it is based on tests a mother has had in her pregnancy. Parents come for genetic counseling because they want a healthy baby and are worried about their chances that this might not be possible. I asked them questions about their family health history; discussed the odds that their furture children might be affected, the role of genes and the ways they could use genetic tests to get more information. I sat with them as they weighed the odds and considered their values, beliefs, options and how they might cope or proceed.
Mack Jones in CA (Higher Education student)
597
I have a cousin with Klinefelter's syndrome. In some ways they seem to be doing really well, but in other ways they seem to struggle. It's hard to know how much of that is because of their condition. What do we know about how people adjust to Klinefelter's?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. No two people with Klinefelter syndrome are alike, just like no two people without Klinefelter syndrome are alike. Every person responds to the diagnosis of a genetic disorder in a different way, and that may change from day to day. The most important thing to remember is that your cousin is an individual, unique person who happens to have a known diagnosis - but that he is not defined by his diagnosis.
Lexington High School in MD (11th grade student)
598
how is DNA made
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. DNA is synthesized by a process named replication. Replication is a way of making two new strands of DNA from an existing strand of DNA. What happens is the two strands of existing DNA unwind and DNA polymerase makes a new strand on the each of these old strands. So now you have two DNA molecules that look like this: (new strand + old strand), (new strand + old strand).
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
599
How does mutation affect DNA?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Mutations can affect DNA in a benign way (i.e., no "bad" effect) or in a very deleterious way. Mutations can alter gene function and can lead to diseases such as diabetes, cancer, or heart disease.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (9th grade student)
600
What happens to your DNA when you die?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. DNA is not alive to begin with and stays with you until the body is completely decomposed. DNA can be extracted from a dead person as easily it can be from someone who is alive.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now in the chatroom is Vence Bonham, chief of the education and community involvement branch. He is a lawyer and a researcher whose work focuses on race, ethnicity and genetics.


602
Why should i care about DNA?
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. DNA is amazing! It is the instruction manual for all life. The difference between humans and frogs is in the DNA! By understanding DNA, we can learn about why some people get certain diseases and others do not. This may be important for you one day if someone in your family gets sick. There may be a genetic cause to the sickness, and you may want to know if you could get the sickness too. Before our understanding of the role of DNA, we were not able to give this kind of information.
Clarksburg High School in MD (10th grade student)
603
How do you extract DNA from Humans
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. It is a very interesting process. DNA is present in mostly all of our cells. We can get DNA from our hair cells, cheek cells, blood, etc. So when a person needs to have a genetic test, their Doctor will ask for a sample (usually blood or saliva). Once a laboratory has a sample from someone, they need to first get at the DNA, which is protected inside the nucleus of the cell. This can be done using chemical solutions, and a special blender. Once the DNA is released from the nucleus, chemicals and heat are used to separate the DNA from the "other" material that is present inside a cell. When you get the DNA all by itself, you can then do tests on that DNA.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
604
Can the sun alter your DNA?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. Yes, the sun can alter your DNA. When UV light hits the DNA molecule it excites the molecule, or adds energy. Sometimes this triggers a chemical reaction that alters the DNA's structure. This can result in diseases, such as skin cancer, so it's important to wear sunscreen that protects you from both UV-A and UV-B rays.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
605
If someone is heterozygous, are both the dominant and recessive alleles expressed? Do you know of any instances where the dominant allele actively suppresses the expression of the recessive allele?
     Michael Dougherty, PhD: I'm the director of education for the American Society of Human Genetics. I help to educate people about the importance and role of genetics in their lives. It's probably more helpful to think of the traits as dominant and recessive and the alleles as functional or nonfunctional (or expressed or non-expressed). If a mutation that inactivates a gene occurs in the promoter, then the gene may not be expressed. If the mutation is a missense mutation, then the transcript and protein may be expressed, but the protein may be nonfunctional. It is certainly the case that in many instances, heterozygotes produce roughly half the normal amount of active protein. Sometimes half is enough; sometimes half is below the threshold for normal function and a change in phenotype is the result. There are cases where second-site genes (i.e., different genes) suppress a recessive phenotype. This occurs, for example, with a gene acting in dominant fashion to suppress recessive deafness.
UNC Chapel Hill in NC (Higher Education teacher)
606
Other than carbon dating, how do you know how old the string of DNA is?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. We can look at the actual sequence of DNA to learn about its history. In general we don't estimate the age of a piece of DNA. However we do often compare the DNA of two people or two species to estimate how long ago they shared a common ancestor. For example we can compare the DNA sequence of a chimpanzee and a human and look at how similar they are. We then can compare that to estimates of mutation rate to get an idea of how long ago the two lineages separated.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
607
How does DNA determine diseases?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. DNA serves as the instructions for how the body grows and develops. Changes in the DNA that affect the meaning of those instructions may be associated with diseases. Everyone has multiple changes in their DNA. Whether these changes cause disease depends on where the change occurs (for example, is it in a gene or in an area of DNA that does not code for anything important) and what the specific change is (e.g., does it change the function of the gene). For many common diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, having a change in a gene that increases disease risk is not sufficient to cause disease; for these diseases to develop, environmental factors must also be present.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
608
Do the machines reading genomes ever make mistakes?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Yes, the methods we use for DNA sequencing make mistakes. So to make sure we really know what the sequence of a genome is, we rely on sequencing overlapping pieces of the genome many times so that we can eliminate errors that an individual read of the sequencing machine might make.
PGH CAPA in PA (10th grade teacher)
609
If the p53 protein is damaged and is a cause of a person's cancer, can we put a healthy p53 gene in its place?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. You ask a good question. Because some missing or altered genes, such as p53, may cause cancer, substituting working copies of these genes could be a treatment for cancer. This approach is known as gene therapy. However, gene therapy is still experimental and there are several obstacles to overcome before it becomes a common technique for treating diseases, including cancer.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
610
What sort of problems hinder the research of gene therapy in humans?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. There are several factors that have prevented gene therapy from becoming an effective treatment for genetic disease. First of all, it is difficult to ensure that the 'corrected' DNA that is introduced into all relevant cells and remains in the cell as it divides and is stable. Also, when a foreign object such as 'corrected' DNA is introduced into human tissues, the immune system is designed to attack the invader and may therefore reduce the effectiveness of the introduced DNA and lead to additional problems. In addition, in gene therapy, viral vectors are often used as a means to introduce the 'corrected' DNA into human cells. Although known viral properties are removed in creating this vector, it may still be toxic and/or cause an immune response. Further, many common human diseases are caused by multiple genes and it is difficult to target multiple genes at the same time.
Lexington High School in SC (10th grade student)
611
We've been taught that Lamarck's theory - inheritance of aquired traits - is "wrong." In light of the discovery of Epigenetics, should we give props to Monsieur Lamarck for being partly right?
     Joe McInerney, M.S.: I was the executive director of NCHPEG, where he developed educational materials in human genetics and genetic medicine for a broad range of health professionals. This is a great question. We always have to be open to reconsidering "wrong" hypotheses in light of new data. Lamarck's view was shown to be incorrect when August Weissmann demonstrated that germ cells (sperm and ova) are separated from the rest of the cells of the body (somatic cells). Epigenetic influences still have to be transmitted through germ cells to be inherited (a distinction that Lamarck could not have made). In addition, such influences still account for a small portion of inherited traits.
Dan Yella-LoMonaco in OR (11th grade student)
612
What is your position on companies who offer pet cloning services? Understanding that it is the DNA (and not necessarily Fluffy's amazing capacity for tricks) that is being cloned, aren't they taking advantage of a person's emotions?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. I believe it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the science, that will help individuals understand what it means to "clone" their pet. Learning science is important!
American History HS in NJ (teacher)
613
There is a unit of genetics called a Morgan. What does it mean?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. When we did not understand much about the principles of genetics and their link to DNA (early 1900's), a scientist named Thomas Hunt Morgan studied genetics in fruit flies. He studied the color of eyes in flies and recombination of this trait in progeny of flies. It became since a standard way to call recombination frequency as centimorgan (cM). The centimorgan is equal to a 1% chance that a marker at one genetic locus will recombine with another marker.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
614
what is the main difference between A type B type and Z type DNA
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. Wow this is a detailed question! Z-DNA winds to the left in a zig-zag pattern. B-DNA is a right-handed helix and is the most common form. A-DNA is a less common right-handed helix and is common under dehydrated conditions. All three types of DNA are biologically active.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
615
What grade do you think children should start learning about DNA?
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. Well, I am not a trained teacher, so I am not sure at what age kids are able to grasp the concept of things like DNA that can't be seen. However, I think it is important that kids start learning the terms associated with genetics as soon as they start learning biology. With each generation there is more and more information that kids will be taught about genetics, so starting at a young age is a good idea.
Mack Jones in CA (Higher Education student)
616
What jobs are available to people interested in DNA?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. There are lots of different jobs such as laboratory researcher, academic scientist, genetic councilor, patent lawyer, medical doctor, and probably more I'm not thinking of right now. An understanding of DNA and genetics is important to an increasing number of careers.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
617
WHY DO THEY USE THE LETTERS T G C A ? WHY CAN'T THEY USE (EXAMPLE ) R T U I OR OTHER LETTERS THAT HAS ANOTHER DEFINITION ?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). Good question! This is so scientists can easily remember the names of the bases, which are given abbreviations based on the first letters of their names. So T = thymine, A = adenine, G = guanine, C = cytosine. A few other letters may also be used. For instance, U = uracil, a base found in RNA.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
618
How does drinking alcohol affect DNA?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. We do not think that drinking alcohol alters DNA. However, it can have other health implications, including increasing a person's risk for certain medical conditions, such as breast cancer, so it is recommended to consume alcohol in moderation.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
619
Why is DNA so long?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. DNA is a very, very long polymer fit into a single cell, and every living cell has this molecule. It is the chief information carrying molecule from one generation to the next. We roughly understand the function of 5% of the entire human genome, but have very little knowledge about what the rest does. There is active research to this out.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
620
In terms of measurement how long is all the DNA in your body stretched out in in Metrics and in Feet.
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). Well, the DNA in each cell is about 6 feet long. Since you remember (I'm sure!) that an inch is equal to about 2.54 cm, you can translate 6 feet into metric for some math practice. Then multiply that times the number of cells in your body, and you'll have your answer.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
621
How did you learn to read DNA?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. Having a solid biological background including training will help one learn about DNA and its many facets. Genomic technology is accelerating at an incredible pace and allows for scientists to quickly 'read' DNA sequences for interpretation.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
622
Do you think it is important not to release information to the general public without being 100% sure about the accuracy of the results.
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. It is important to make sure that information is accurate. We all must understand that as we learn more about the human genome, it can change our understanding. Science is not stagnant.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
623
What are genetic problems contributed to cardiovascular diseases like Tatralogy of Fallot, Foramen Ovale, Truncus Arteriosus, etc?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. There are several genetic conditions that are associated with such heart defects. These include Down Syndrome, which is caused by an extra chromosome 21, and DiGeorge Syndrome, which is caused by a deletion in chromosome 22. These genetic conditions do not always cause such heart defects, and there many other causes of such heart defects such as alcohol use during pregnancy.
Anthro-Therizino (7th grade student)
624
How much money do u make a year? Ben Fortin
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. If you are curious about how much money genetic counselors make, I would recommend that you visit the NSGC website. They do a professional status survey every couple of years that shows the salaries by region. Salaries for genetic counselors vary greatly by the area of the country they are in and what type of job they have. As for other types of Geneticists, such as medical geneticists (who are MDs) and laboratory geneticists (who are typically PhDs) - I am sure that their salaries also vary by where they are in the country and what type of company they work for. Most geneticists that I know are fairly satisfied with how much money they make- probably because most of us love our jobs!
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
625
how are humans and bananas alike?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). Humans and bananas both need air, water, and nutrients to live. Also, both species use DNA packaged into chromosomes as a way to store genetic information.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
626
What can happen to you if you do not know that you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes.
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. Diabetes means your blood sugar is too high because the body does not break down the glucose, which is typically present in the body, appropriately. This means that there is too much glucose in the blood, which causes symptoms that include being very thirsty, frequent urination, losing weight without trying, having itchy and dry skin, losing feeling in your feet or having a tingling sensation, and having blurry eyesight. Not everyone with diabetes has the exact same symptoms. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different causes and both are likely a combination of genetic and environmental causes. Knowing your family history can sometimes help you determine if you are at higher risk of developing diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is more typically diagnosed in childhood and is due to the beta cells of the pancreas no longer make insulin because the bodys immune system has attacked and destroyed them. Type 2 diabetes is more common and is caused by the fat, liver, and muscle cells not being able to use insulin properly. The risk of type 2 diabetes increases with being overweight and inactive. There are treatments available for both types of diabetes. Here's a good resource: http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/DM/pubs/type1and2/
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
627
What is a microarray?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. DNA has information to make proteins. This information is passed onto mRNA (messenger RNA) before this is translated into proteins. One can estimate in a lab which genes are actively being translate into proteins by assessing the quantity of mRNA for each gene. Genes (or portions of genes) can be printed on a glass slide and 'hybridise' mRNA to quantitate how much mRNA for each gene exists.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
628
What are the most recent findings in telomere research?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. Telomere research is an exciting field. For example, telomere length is a heritable trait and thought to be a predictor for a number of common age-related diseases.
Scranton Preparatory School in WY (10th grade student)
629
We want to educate masses (non scientific) people about genes and gene disorders. What do you suggest us as teaching aids ?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. There are great resources on the web. I refer you to the National Human Genome Research Institute education resources (www.genome.gov) and the Genetic Science Learning Center (learn.genetics.utah.edu) as a start.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (Higher Education teacher)
630
Q: Do the different parts of our body have different DNA patterns?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). In general, the cells in our body all have the same DNA. What's different is which genes are turned on at which times. Some genes may only be active in a specific organ at a specific stage of development. Others may be active at all stages of development.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
631
Is there a genetic link to aids?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. Yes, there are some genetic factors that are involved in susceptibility to HIV. As a result, while the vast majority of people are susceptible to HIV infection, rare individuals have been shown to be partially resistant to the virus and show slow progression in developing AIDS. We do not fully understand these genetic factors yet and cannot make predictions about who is more or less susceptible to HIV infection.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
632
We are only a small fraction different from one another, so aren't we the same?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Our DNA sequence is more than 99% the same. We are all a little bit different, though also. Because our genome is ~3.5 thousand million bases long even a 0.1% difference between people adds up to many millions of differences. So, while we're all pretty close to identical there are enough genomic differences so that we're also each unique.
Brownsville Area High School in PA (10th grade student)
633
When a person has cancer, why can't doctors just find the cell that has the gene and then extract it?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. For conditions such as hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, we know that individuals who have mutations in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 have an increased risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer. So why can't we just extract the altered BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes? First, these genes are present in almost every cell in the body. Second, these genes actually play very important roles in our body so we cannot simply extract them. But perhaps you are thinking about extracting the altered copies and replacing them with working copies. This is called gene therapy. Researchers are studying several ways to treat cancer using gene therapy, including substituting working copies of genes to treat cancer, inserting genes into cancer cells that make them more sensitive to chemotherapy or other treatments, and inserting genes into cancer cells that lead to the destruction of the cancer cells. These approaches are all experimental, and several obstacles must be overcome before they are used as a common treatment for cancer.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
634
Does the human genome have any defects?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. Everyone has a number of changes in their DNA because of mistakes that occur when the strands of DNA are duplicated to create new cells. Whether these mistakes cause health problems depends on where they are and what they do. If the change is in the middle of a gene and causes it to create a different protein, it is more likely to cause health problems than if the change occurs in a stretch of DNA that does not code for a gene.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
635
What is the concept of a gene in the post-genomic era?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. There is no good definition of a gene as the concept of a gene is very fluid. Back in the day, it used to be a stretch of DNA coding for a single protein, which doesn't hold true anymore. We have knowledge that each coding stretch can be transcribed into multiple transcripts. Therefore there is lot to be learned about genes and their functions.
Balochistan University in HI (Higher Education student)
636
how does DNA work
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). Stretches of DNA known as genes get copied into RNA. RNA is translated into many different kinds of protein. Some of these proteins are then used to build the structural parts of our bodies. Other proteins are used in the functions of our bodies.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
637
Is it possible to make artificial DNA?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. If you meant, if you can artificially synthesize DNA, then the answer is yes. We can synthesize short stretches of DNA in the lab.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
638
What year did the first discover that living things have DNA?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. DNA was discovered in the late 1800s by Frederich Miescher. The biological importance of DNA was brought to light by the work of James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin in 1953.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
639
What do u find fascinating about biology or science in general?
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. Studying genetics is like solving a mystery to me. There is so much about the way our bodies (and all life) works that we don't understand, and DNA holds the answer to much of it. There are devastating human diseases that we used to not be able to treat, and now that the genetics is understood we can. This goes for animals and plants too. For example, Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a very sad disease caused by a genetic change. As geneticists, we study what that gene's function is in the body. This helps to understand why it causes the problems it does, and what types of treatments could be helpful. Hopefully this will make our lives better!
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
640
what causes one letter in the DNA to go wrong? [*Felecia*]
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). Mutations, or changes in the DNA code, can be caused by some drugs, by radiation, or by random processing errors during chromosome replication. If you copied 1000 pages on a xerox machine, the machine would probably jam a couple of times, right? Well, the cellular copying process sometimes makes mistakes too. What's amazing is that most of the time, all 20,000 or so genes get copied correctly in every dividing cell.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
641
What function does double stranded RNA have in vertebrates?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. One function of double stranded RNA in cells is to regulate the expression of some genes. Small segments of double stranded DNA help to decide what genes are translated into protein.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
642
Can you fix a defective part in DNA ?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. There is a lot of ongoing research trying to find ways to fix DNA that is not working correctly or more likely, replace the protein that is not being made correctly. This approach is difficult because changes in DNA are present in every cell of the body. Therefore, to fix the DNA, it would be necessary to figure out how to get something into every cell. Replacing the proteins that are incorrect because of the mistake in the DNA may be easier. The challenge in that approach is to get the proteins into the organs that need it on a continual basis.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
643
Will my doctor be able to keep up with the improvements in genetics and medicine?
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. That is a good question. The answer is yes and no. Most doctors do not have a significant amount of training in genetics, so it can be difficult for them to stay informed on the newest advances. Genetics is a specialty in medicince, just like orthopedics or cardiology is. Medical geneticists are doctors who have done additional training to specialize in genetics, and they are the doctors who are experts in genetics. A good general practitioner maintains some awareness of the latest in other specialties, but mostly needs to know when it is appropriate to refer to a specialist. That is not an easy task, and just like any other profession, there are some doctors who are more informed than others.
Johnson High School in MD (teacher)
644
I have a serious question. The other day, my teacher asked me if binomial DNA was the same as my parents. What do you think?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. Do you mean, if you have two copies of DNA? Yes, you have 2 sets of chomosomes (DNA), one set from each parent.
Clarksburg High School in MD (10th grade student)
645
When you separate DNA from a living thing, if you drop it or smash it, would it break into millions of pieces?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). It might, because DNA can contain millions of basepairs (the "letters" in the DNA code). When we sequence DNA to decode genes, we intentionally divide the DNA molecules into smaller pieces. Then we line up the smaller lengths of code to read the whole gene.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
646
What role does genetics play in aging?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. Genetics is likely to play some role in aging. Studies on animal models suggest that certain genetic mutations can increase life-span markedly. In addition, family-based studies suggest that there is a familial component to the ability to survive to an old age. Further, it is relatively well recognized that an accumulation of mutations in mitochondrial DNA may be responsible for the physiological process of aging and may even cause to some extent, age-related diseases. However, we also that environmental factors (such as lifestyle) also play an important role in aging.
Ben ()
647
How are different forms of RNA are implicated in gene expression?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. There are four forms of RNA; mRNA (messenger RNA), tRNA (transcript RNA), rRNA (ribosomal RNA) and snRNA (small nuclear RNA). RNA codes for the proteins that are essential for sustaining life.
anonymous in WY (10th grade student)
648
How does DNA get passed down from your ancestors...year after year?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. Our DNA is the genetic code that we inherit from our parents. Half of our DNA comes from our mother, the other half from our father. This holds true for our parents as well. So our mother inherited half of her DNA from her mother and the other half from her father, etc. When we have our own children, we contribute half of that child's DNA in either the egg or the sperm. This continues on for generations!!!
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (9th grade student)
649
do u people like your jobs
     Katheryn Jones, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a genetic counselor at Kaiser Permanente in California. I discuss genetic testing with families. I see patients who are pregnant as well as children and adults with suspected genetic conditions. I love my job as a genetic counselor. Genetics is a constantly changing field, and I love the challange of keeping up. I also love that I get to talk to people every day and help them understand difficult concepts. Sometimes my job is difficult, as I deal with sad issues, but I feel rewarded when my patients tell me that they really appreciate what I did to help them.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
650
If it was 1999 when a 1/3rd of the human genome was coded, how much of the of the human genome is coded in the year 2009? [*Felecia*]
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. We have what we now consider to be the complete sequence of the human genome. We are actively sequencing, not only other species, but additional different humans. We would like to better understand what the similarities and differences are between people and their susceptibility to disease. Additionally new sequencing technologies have become much cheaper so we're able to sequence more and more all the time.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
651
On the subject of gene therapy, how do scientist's go about disguising viral vectors, such as a retroviral vector, so that they don't cause an immune response? Alex J.
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. Great question. I am not an expert on gene therapy, but I do know that viral vectors are genetically modified before they are used. However, the adverse human immune response is a huge barrier to gene therapy right now. Gene therapy is not an approved therapy in the US. Scientists are being very cautious with gene therapy experiments because they need to be sure that they are safe and effective treatments. Here is a link to gene therapy on the NIH site: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/therapy/genetherapy
Lexington High School in SC (12th grade student)
652
As an expert on DNA are you frustrated when the news media inaccurately portrays what science is doing for society?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. I am a researcher that studies how genomic technology is translated to society. I think it is a challenge to make sure that information is accurately communicated to the public. We need to continue to study how information is communicated to the public.
Mack Jones in CA (Higher Education student)

Information - Moderator We now have Adam Woolfe. His research involves using computers to analyze genomic data.


654
How many chromosomes are there are in someone with down syndrome?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra chromosome 21. This results in a total of 47 chromosomes in a person with Down syndrome, instead of the normal 46 chromosomes.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
655
On the subject of gene therapy, how is it that scientist's engineer viral vectors, such as a retroviral vector, to keep the body from initiating an immune response?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. Great question. I am not an expert on gene therapy, but I do know that viral vectors are genetically modified before they are used. However, the adverse human immune response is a huge barrier to gene therapy right now. Gene therapy is not an approved therapy in the US. Scientists are being very cautious with gene therapy experiments because they need to be sure that they are safe and effective treatments. Here is a link to gene therapy on the NIH site: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/therapy/genetherapy
Lexington High School in SC (12th grade student)
656
How does radiation exposure affect DNA? What kind is the worst?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. Radioactive exposure leads to DNA damage. It depends on which part of the 'light' spectrum the radioactivity comes from. Higher the energy of radioactivity, more the DNA damage. So X-rays (high energy) can be more damaging than UV rays over the same exposure time.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (9th grade student)
657
What role does DNA play in having multiple births in a single pregnancy (e.g. Twins, Triplets, Quadruplets, etc.)?
     Dawn Peck, M.S.: I have been working as the coordinator for pediatric metabolic genetics at the University of Missouri for 8 years. I also contract with Missouri's Department of Health & Senior services working in educating the public about genetics and genetic disease. This is a very interesting question! Some women have an inherited tendency to ovulate and release more than one mature egg during a cycle. This would result in fraternal (dizygotic) twins. The children produced in this kind of pregnancy would be as genetically similar as siblings. If a person has a dizygotic twin pregnancy, there is about a 2% chance for it to happen again. Typically, identical (or monozygotic) twins are a rarely the result of our DNA, but just a chance occurrence.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (10th grade student)
658
Hello, I am Junaid, a regular user of genome. gov and tomorrow we are going to celeberate the DNA day at out university. My question is: How has the genetic code evolved?
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. Genetic code evolves by spontaneous mutation and selection. So there are regions on the genome that are highly critical to the organism, that you don't find any mutations in these regions.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
659
At NIH (National Institute of Health), is there is a sign on the door of a microbiology lab that reads "STAPH ONLY!" ?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. Yup! It's right next to the sign that says, "Make sure your genes are zipped!"
Ricky Waivers in WI (Higher Education teacher)
660
Why do some carcinogens affect certain members of a population but not others (i.e. if cigarette smoke can cause lung cancer, then why don't all people contract cancer?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. This is a really good question. Researchers have worked on this question and have found that some individuals have changes in their genes, that in conjunction with smoking increase their risk for developing lung cancer. These gene changes likely explain why some individuals who smoke a pack a day for most of their life never get cancer, while others who never smoke but grew up with exposure to second-hand smoke develop lung cancer.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
661
Can someone have the identical genes if they are not identical twins?
     Kate Reed, M.P.H., Sc.M.: I work as a genetic counselor with both children and adults. I also work as a project director at the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics where I help to teach doctors and other health professionals about genetics. The easy answer is that full siblings (brothers and sisters with the same parents) who are not identical twins share 50% of their genes. The more complicated answer is that when chromosomes replicate and divide to form new cells, they go through a process called crossing over. Crossing over means that the chromosome coming from Mom may exchange a small amount of DNA with the same chromosome coming from Dad. This means that not all chromosomes and, therefore, genes that are inherited are exactly the same. The field of epigenetics works on understanding these types of differences.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
662
My teacher told me that DNA stands for National Dyslexic Association. I dont get it!! You said it stands for deoxyribonucleic acid. Can you scientists explain?
     Sarah Harding, MPH: I guide NHGRI's community outreach efforts. I have master's degree in public health. You're absolutely right! At least in a DNA Day context, DNA stands for Deoxyribonucleic acid...that's not to say the acronym can't be used for other purposes.
Sue Brezin in RI (6th grade student)
663
Is it possible to change your DNA?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Through various techniques it is possible to make some types of changes in some of the cells of the body as is done with gene therapy. With our technology we don't have a way to alter the DNA in all of the cells of the body since each cell has its own copy of your genome.
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
664
can u find a dogs dna the same way you find a humans???????
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. The technology used to sequence human DNA can theoretically be used to sequence any organism's genome. All you need is some cells from that organism and you can extract the DNA and then sequence it.
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
665
Do you love biology?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow I do! It is extremely satisfying to work in such an exciting field.
East Hampton High School in CT (10th grade student)
666
Can the increasing frequency of zoonotic diseases be related to the rate at which hyperevolution of bacteria/viruses is occuring or does it further support how closely related all living organisms are?
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. This is a complicated question with many variables to consider. We live in a shared world with animals where our environments have many opportunities for crossover; food supply, domestic pets, farming, and interactions with wild animals. This close proximity and the rapid evolution of bacteria and viruses all play a role in the transmission and frequency of zoonotic diseases.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
667
How different is the DNA between a human and a dolphin
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). There was a study in 1998 that suggested that dolphin DNA was more similar to human DNA than horse, cow, or pig DNA.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
668
Is there anything that could go wrong in your DNA, so that you would be like an X-Man
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Well, X-men is science fiction partly because most the abilities that they have are not known to be scientifically possible. With our current understanding of how biology works we don't know any way those kinds of changes could be made.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
669
Is it possible to genetically modify ourselves yet?
     Robin Troxell, B.S., M.S.: I am the prenatal genetic counselor for St John's Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic. I also serve as the University of Missouri's coordinator and pediatric genetic counselor for the Springfield Outreach Genetics clinic. Stand outside in the sun - the UV rays will change the DNA in your skin! Seriously, there is no way to modify ourselves to change our traits (eye, hair, or skin color) if that is what you mean.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
670
Can DNA only be used to identify people?
     Amy Turriff, B.S.: I'm a second-year genetic counseling student in the Johns Hopkins/NHGRI training program. Identification of people is just one use of DNA. Another use is to help us better understand and treat disease. For example, some people develop disease because they have changes in their DNA. We can use their DNA to determine if this is the cause of their disease, or to determine if they are at risk for a disease. Researchers use this information to learn more about both common diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as rare diseases. Also it helps them work on developing treatments for diseases.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
671
Can you change a person's DNA and alter it so much that the person will no longer be considered human?
     Neha Kumar, Sc.B.: I'm a first-year genetic counseling student, and I see prenatal patients in the clinic. This is an interesting question and I am not sure we know the answer. At this point, we have not manipulated human DNA to the extent that may theoretically possible and we do not know what will happen if we do. In general, we do not understand the specific genetic properties that make a human a human, and so we cannot know what manipulations we could make to a person's DNA so s/he is no longer a human. In fact, we do know that DNA is highly similar between different species.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Lucia Hindorff. She's an epidemiologist. Ask her what they do!



Information - Moderator

Did you know that National DNA Day is on Facebook?

Facebook This year, we asked our fans to send in an original photo of DNA models.
They didn't have to be scientifically accurate, but they did have to be creative.

We are pleased to announce this year's winning team:
American Society of Human Genetics staff members: Angie and Peggi.

Winning Model - DNA Double Helix made out of different colored fortune cookies.
View Enlarged Image


They will receive an original NHGRI 19 oz. coffee mug.

Thanks to all of you who entered!

Check out all the entries on the National DNA Day Facebook page at:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bethesda-MD/National-DNA-Day/47309007669
.



674
Do animals that are not homo sapiens play a vital role with DNA, and giving us answers to some possible genetic problems?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. Animals have DNA too, in fact, animals and humans have a lot of DNA in common. This means that studying DNA and genetic disorders in animals can help scientists learn about DNA in humans.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
675
How does DNA get damaged to the point of causing disease?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. DNA can be damaged by some environmental factors, such as carcinogens. Some examples of carcinogens are radiation, or cigarette smoke. These can damage a person's DNA and cause cancer. Other types of disease can be caused when the "spell check" of our DNA does not work properly.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (9th grade student)
676
I am surprised that cows share so many genes with us. What other animals would I be surprised to find out have such commonalities? (Not including primates.) Stephanie Fisher
     Praveen Cherukuri, Ph.D.: My research area involves analysis of sequence variation in relation to the protein coding regions of the human genome. It all depends on the "degree of sharing" and how one defines "sharing". We share DNA sequence similarity in certain genes to varying degrees with a lot of living organisms. These genes in essence are critical for the maintenance of life. Although the similarity in genes is high (or low for that matter), one needs to be aware that, it is highly critical when (temporal) these genes are expressed and to what degree (levels of protein product) they are expressed.
American History HS in NJ (10th grade student)
677
Do dead things still have DNA?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. Sure, DNA, like all the parts of the body remains after we die. In fact DNA is used for forensic purposes to help identify the dead bodies of people that can't be recognized in other ways. In fact all the dead things we eat (vegetables, meat, fruit, grains, etc.) have DNA in them too. Of course over time the DNA will deteriorate just like every other part of living things.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
678
Can you alter a person's dna?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Yes, DNA can be mutated in a number of ways but it is not always clear what the results of such mutations on traits may be.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
679
How many different traits are there in the genome?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. We generally talk about the genome as DNA sequence information - traits are characteristics of people and not genomes per se. But once you have that genetic information on one person (and hopefully more), you can study that in relation to any trait you want! For example, we track types of studies called "genome-wide association studies" and there are at least 90 different traits or diseases.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
680
how is it that human DNA is so closely related to insects and fruit when we are mammals? *A'Aquila*
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. All living organisms share a certain degree of DNA, the building blocks of life. The sequence of the DNA will differ between organisms.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
681
Can you extract DNA from fossils? If so, how?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. In theory you can extract DNA from a fossil, in particular amber which has often been found with insects preserved inside. If the amber was cut open and some cells from the insect could be extracted, we could extract the DNA from it.
Maddie in NM ()

Information - Moderator Here now is Sarah Knerr. Her work focuses on human genetic variation and health disparities.



Information - Moderator Now joining us is Robin Troxell, a prenatal genetic counselor.



Information - Moderator We now have Monica Alvarado, a genetic counselor with experience in prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics.


685
I was wondering how scientists figuered out how DNA replicates?
     Meghan Deeney, B.S.: I am currently a second year genetic counseling student at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. I completed my prenatal and cancer genetic counseling internships. My current internship is in pediatric genetic counseling at Children's Hospital Boston. I also work at Genzyme Genetics part-time. In the 1950's, two men, Messelson and Stahl, figured out how DNA replicated by attaching different weighted nitrogen atoms to DNA. DNA was then allowed to replicate, and by measuring the weight of the DNA molecules, they were able to determine that DNA replicates in a "semiconservative" manner. Semiconservative means that each strand of DNA replicates itself to make a new strand. So a DNA molecule is made up of one old strand ("parent strand"), and one new strand ("daughter strand").
Arrowhead High School in WI (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Anna Rossoshek. She's a scientific analyst with a background in mouse genetics and genomics.


687
Do you think that ethical concerns, for example stem cell research, may soon slow or even stop in some situations progress in genetic research?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Ethical concerns and the public opinion do shape science and in some situations can stop certain avenues of research from moving forward, especially by influencing what is funded.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
688
How come if we are 99% the same genetically, we all look different?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. This is a great question and raises a couple of subtle points (if not more). Some genetic changes in the DNA are so important that a single change can affect an individual's appearance or health. So that 1% that differs might include some really important genetic variants. Also, don't discount the importance of environment - think about all the things you do to get ready for the day and how many of them change your appearance. This is not to mention the influences of all of the food that you eat, what your lifestyle is like, etc.
Branford High School in CT (10th grade student)
689
How many genes do we have
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. there is still quite a bit of debate about that for a few reasons (one being that our understanding of genes keeps changing), but the current estimate for humans is around 20,000 genes.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
690
Scientifically, is addiction a disease?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. Many people do regard addiction as a disease - for example, there are medical treatments and health professionals that treat different kinds of addiction. Like many other conditions, though, addiction is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors - the classic blend of nature and nurture.
Lexington High School in SC (12th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Judith Miller. She's a genetic counselor whose main focus is cancer genetics.


692
why are nitrogen bases always paired up with its other pair (A to T, C to G)
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. These bases (adenosine, thymine, cytosine and guanine) are known as nucleotides. They pair with the same base in the double helix (A with T, G with C) because of their molecular structure. The bases are complementary and fit together like two jigsaw pieces via weak chemical attractions known as hydrogen bonds. The structure of bases that don't pair are not complementary and therefore do not pair in the helix.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
693
Do you believe it is ethical to demand people's DNA for experimental purposes, or should their consent be required?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Demanding individuals' DNA or obtaining it without their permission for research is considered unethical--review boards that oversee the conduct of scientific research are charged with making sure this does not happen. Obtaining informed consent, which includes explaining to individuals what will be done with their DNA and how long it will be kept, is required when enrolling participants in research studies.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
694
What first intrested you about science?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. That's a really good question - I didn't really get interested in science, believe it or not, until college. (I always thought I would go to med school!) But then I got to work in a lab where someone taught me to isolate DNA and when I saw that pellet at the bottom of the tube, I thought that was really cool. And there are lots of good opportunities for people who like both science and medicine, or science and ethics, or lots of other combinations.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
695
Is it possible for a person's DNA to change after their developmental stages?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Yes, a person's DNA can change after conception. Such a change is referred to as a mutation. A mutation that occurs after conception is not inherited and are not likely to be passed on to future generations unless they affect the egg or sperm cell.
St. Lawrence Seminary in WI (10th grade student)
696
Is your job cool?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. I love my job. Currently, I'm working on a project where I get to interview genetic researchers and talk to them about their work. I learn something new and exciting every day!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
697
Why does everyone have different genetic makeup?
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. Different genetic makeup results in the different traits and characteristics that people express. If we all had the same genetic makeup, we would all be the same.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
698
what is epigenetics
     Heather Junkins, M.S.: I work in NHGRI's Office of Population Genomics on a variety of projects that aim to promote the application of geneomic technologies to population-based studies. Epigenetics refers to the study of heritable changes in gene expression without changing the DNA sequence. Current research is examining the role that epigenetics plays in the development of diseases such as cancer.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
699
Hi, Robin, what is the most difficult case that you have encountered?
     Robin Troxell, B.S., M.S.: I am the prenatal genetic counselor for St John's Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic. I also serve as the University of Missouri's coordinator and pediatric genetic counselor for the Springfield Outreach Genetics clinic. That is very hard to answer! I have had cases that were difficult in different ways. Some are challenging intellectually, to be able to clearly explain complex genetic information to families who may have no scientific background. Some are challenging emotionally, such as when a baby is diagnosed with a devastating disorder like trisomy 18 and isn't expected to live very long.
Soma in CA (Higher Education student)
700
Do you think ADD/ADHD is caused more by environmental factors or from genetic factors?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. Scientists have not yet discovered the exact causes of ADD/ADHD. Many studies have shown that ADHD can run in families, which suggests that genetic factors play a role in ADHD. Other studies have found an effect from environmental factors, such as exposure to alcohol or smoking during pregnancy. This probably means that ADHD, like many other conditions, results from the combination of genetic and environmental factors.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
701
why do strawberries have more chromosomes than humans?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. The official number of chromosomes for strawberries is actually 7 (compared to humans who have 23). Normally strawberries would have 14 chromosomes (2n), however in order to make larger berries, breeders have made strawberry plants that have 8 duplicate copies of the genome (8n known as octaploids). So strawberries have lots and lots of DNA per cell.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Shawn Burgess who works in the Genome Technology Branch at NHGRI. He uses zebrafish as a model to understand hearing.


703
With so many different branches of genetics out there - what kind of degree should a person go for?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. There is no set answer to this question; it depends on a person's specific interests. Beyond a Ph.D in a genetics realted field there are other types of degrees that deal with genetics, for example an MPH (degree in public health) or masters degree in genetic counseling.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
704
What would happen if adenine and guanine accidentally got paired together?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. When a mistake is made in base pair matching (and this does occasionally happen) a small bulge occurs in the DNA helix. There are enzymes that scan the DNA for these little bulges and they cut out one of the bases and replaces it with the correct matching base. The problem is that the enzymes don't know which base is the "right" one, so 50% of the time, the wrong base is replaced. This is one of the ways mutations occur.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
705
What causes the color of DNA to be clear?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. DNA is generally suspended and soluble in water and is therefore clear. Sometimes in diagrams, people color the different bases in green, blue, red etc to make separating the letters easier but in reality DNA has no color.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
706
I have a BLAST search report where my query is matching with two distinct organisms upto 99%(Identity) with a query coverage of 98%. What should be the next step for me in the identification of actual organism to which my query sequence is matching?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. We would need more information to answer this problem accurately. If the query was done with protein sequence, try DNA sequence. It seems unlikely that a query would match that closely to two different distinct organisms. There also is a possibility of mis-annotation in the database.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
707
Does DNA take part in determining the intelligence of a person?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Our DNA does play a role in determining our intelligence, however, many other factors are also important such as how hard a person works to become smart! Intelligence, like many other characteristics, is a combination of genes and determination; sometimes more of one than another. Keep studying.......we would like for you to join us here at NIH!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
708
how is it some parts of DNA can be turned on and off so that cells will have different functions
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. The parts of DNA that can be turned on and off are called genes. Genes turn on and off all the time in cells. It really depends on the function of the gene to determine what happens when it is turned on or off.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
709
What are your thoughts on the Human Epigenome Project? How long is it expected to take and what sort of funding is involved?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow The HEP is a logical extension of the Human Genome Project. The HGP provided us with the DNA sequence of the human genome and the HEP looks to identify and categorize the forces acting "on" the DNA, specifically, DNA methylation. DNA methylation is important because it is known to play a role in gene expression and is considered by many as the missing link between genetics and a number of diseases. The HEP is ongoing and is a public/private endeavor. For more information, visit: http://www.epigenome.org
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
710
Why does having an extra Y chromosome have fewer detrimental effects than having an extra X or autosomal chromosome?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. It is somewhat a matter of perspective. Men with an extra Y chromosome might have extra height or learning disabilities (two of the effects that have been described). But that is not to say that having an extra X chromosome is not detrimental. XXY individuals (like in Klinefelter's syndrome) can have decreased IQ and skeletal abnormalities.
Stuart (student)
711
Regarding type 2 diabetes (MODY) after detecting the presence of defective GCK gene what remedy can be suggested ?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. At this point in time, we are still relying on standard approaches to preventing type 2 diabetes, such as diet control and exercise. However, as we gain further insight into the molecular pathways of MODY, we hope to develop molecular strategies that will complement the existing life style changes. Stay tuned.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (Higher Education teacher)
712
Why do certain conditions seem to more seriously affect certain racial groups if race is not a major genetic difference between human beings?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Race is a social construct not a biological one, but can sometimes be correlated with where an individual's descendants came from. Based on adaptations to different environmental exposures that were present in that environment, modern day humans may have different levels of susceptibility to different disease. The relationship between malaria and sickle cell disease is a good example of this. A large component of differences in disease rates between groups is due to social factors.
St. Ignatius in IL (9th grade student)
713
How many different prenatal conditions can be tested for presently (by whatever method) that are actually preventable/treatable?
     Robin Troxell, B.S., M.S.: I am the prenatal genetic counselor for St John's Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic. I also serve as the University of Missouri's coordinator and pediatric genetic counselor for the Springfield Outreach Genetics clinic. There aren't any cures for genetic disorders detected prenatally (like Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, or other chromosomal or DNA disorders). However, finding out during a pregnancy that a baby will have a specific diagnosis gives the family time to prepare emotionally, and to have the proper physical care lined up for the child. Children who are born with CF do seem to do better when they are treated early, rather than waiting until they are sick. The same is true for many inborn errors of metabolism such as PKU. So, although there may not be a cure, prenatal diagnosis and newborn screening can tremendously impact a baby's health.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
714
What is the difference between human and ape DNA?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. The living great apes are the orangutan, gorilla and chimpanzee. The apes all have 24 pairs of chromosomes (long strands of DNA), and humans have 23 pairs, a similar number. When comparing the DNA sequence (the order of all the bases, the building blocks of the DNA), the chimpanzee is more than 98% similar to humans, the gorilla sequences are more than 97% similar to humans, and the orangutan DNA sequence is about 95% similar to humans. However, some DNA differences don't show up as sequence differences. For example, the chimpanzee DNA has a number of inversions not seen in the human DNA. An inversion is a chromosomal rearrangement in which a segment of a chromosome is reversed end to end, but the sequence will appear very similar.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
715
What would reduce the cost of gene mapping and other processes related to "personalized medicine"?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Technology advances are the key driver in terms of the sequencing costs. Typically the fundamental way we are reducing costs is by being able to sequence from smaller and smaller amounts of material. There are technologies currently under development that will get sequence from a single strand of DNA. We are rapidly approaching the day when we will be able to afford to sequence everyone's genome as part of normal health care.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
716
What vegetable/fruit has the closest DNA to humans?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. All fruits and vegetables from plants are equally related to us by a common ancestor around 1.6 billion years ago. Animals and plants have evolved in parallel since then, so no particular plant is more similar to us than any other.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Amanda Singleton. She is a genetic counseling student.


718
Does genetic makeup contribute to individual susceptibility to MRSA spreading in school community ?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Excellent question! While studies to assess genetic susceptibility to MRSA have not yet been undertaken, it is highly likely that some people are more likely to get MRSA based upon their genetic make-up than others.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
719
Is it possible for two twins from the same womb to have two different fathers?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Yes, it is possible. The technical term is heteropaternal superfecundation, however, the twins would be fraternal, not identical.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
720
Would it be possible to operate on people with faulty DNA and fix it?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. The genetic information that you inherit from your mom and dad was fixed when you were conceived. Currently we don't know how to "overwrite" all of this information that you were born with. But we do know a lot about treating diseases that are related to changes in genetic information. Sometimes knowing more about faulty DNA can help us develop therapies targeted for specific conditions.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
721
can we(theoretically)get superpowers through genetics?like superspeed or x-ray vision?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Superpowers are probably unlikely, most of the focus of researchers is to simply fix genes that aren't working properly in people. This has proven to be a challenging enough problem for us to solve.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
722
I've read that placental abnormalities in humans are associated with father to offspring inheritance. Does this have to do with imprinted genes? Is this the case in other mammals?
     Robin Troxell, B.S., M.S.: I am the prenatal genetic counselor for St John's Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic. I also serve as the University of Missouri's coordinator and pediatric genetic counselor for the Springfield Outreach Genetics clinic. Sometimes the cells in a placenta that is not functioning correctly have two copies of a single chromosome from the sperm, rather than one from egg and one from sperm. This may be related to imprinting. This has been studied in mice as well.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
723
Appoximately twenty percent of genes have been patented. Is this strictly ethical for medical genetics?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. There are a range of opinions about the ethics of gene patenting, but currently these patents are not only in the field of medical genetics. This is an issues that is likely to change as genetic research progresses and also as courts examine cases that address existing gene patents.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
724
Tell me, Shawn, what have you learned about hearing through your study of zebrafish?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. The most interesting finding from the study of hearing in fish is that they are remarkably good at repairing damage to hearing. If humans suffer damage to their hearing, it is permanent. When zebrafish hearing is damaged, within a week it grows back and they are perfectly normal. If we can understand how this works, perhaps we can figure out how to do it in humans.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
725
The Encode group published some data in June of 2007 which showed an instance in which human mRNA exons were being spliced into a non-polycistronic mRNA. Since this shakes the foundation of some basic DNA dogma, I was wondering you could comment on how much we don't know about DNA.
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. At this point in time, there is still more that we don't know about DNA then we actually do know. That is why after 50+ years of research, we continue to fund research surrounding Genetics.
University of Iowa in IA (Higher Education student)
726
My mom is a survivor of Burkitts Lymphoma and she was told that she was one of the few white adult female to have this and survive. Is there any reason for this?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. It would be difficult to pin point the exact reason why your mom got this disease. Burkitts lymphoma can occur at any age, but tends to occur most often in children and in young adult males. It is rare in the US, and seen more often in equatorial regions (like Central Africa). Most cases of Burkitt's lymphoma are caused by a rearrangement, called a translocation, between chromosomes 8 and 14. The translocation causes some genes to turn "on" leading to uncontrolled cell growth. Some viruses (like Epstein-Barr), and rare genetic conditions (like Ataxia Telangietasia), have been linked to Burkitt's. Glad your mom is doing well.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
727
How close are we to a cure for cancer?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. We have learned so much about ways that cancer develops and how to treat cancer in recent years. One success story is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which used to be fatal in children. Now we commonly see cure rates of 80% This is not true for all cancers, yet, unfortunately. Each type of cancer is a little different in terms of the challenges that we face in learning how to cure it. But stay tuned - we are learning more every day.
Branford High School in CT (10th grade student)
728
Can cloning eliminate defective DNA to remove potential diseases or physical defects?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Approaches to correct DNA have focused on gene therapy which inserts properly functioning copies of genes within the body with hopes of correcting the problems. Some success has resulted particularly in selected kinds of diseases involving inherited immune problems like severe combined immune deficiency syndrome (SCID).
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (9th grade student)
729
Are there any circumstances where a person has more or less than 23 base pairs?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. I wonder if you mean more or less than 23 pairs of chromosomes? If so, the answer is Yes! Great question. Some conditions are caused by extra or missing chromosomes, such as Down Syndrome which is also known as trisomy 21. This means that instead of 2 copies of chromosome 21, a person with Down Syndrome has 3 copies. Another condition is called Turner syndrome where a woman only has one X chromosome instead of two. So her karyotype is 45X instead of 46,XX.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
730
Is it really possible to engineer a "superhuman" in the sense that the result is stronger, or faster or more durable?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. No, it is not possible to engineer a superhuman. But, genes the play a role in endurance and ability to build muscle have been discovered, though multiple genes and environmental factors play a role in these characteristics in humans.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
731
What is translation?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Translation is the process where the ribosome (the protein production machine) "reads" the DNA sequence and converts the DNA code into a protein chain, essentially it converts the gene sequence into an actual protein.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
732
Ms. Rossoshek, do the effects of various types of drugs (i.e, stimulants versus depressants) in mice mirror the effects in humans?
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. Absolutely! That is why mice are an excellent model for research, not just for testing drug effects, but for studying human diseases as well.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
733
What percentage of one's personality is in his/her DNA?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Personality is influenced by the interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Complex traits like "personality" are some of the most interesting and complicated human characteristics to study.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (9th grade student)
734
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
735
Who is your favorite, famouse geneticist(s)?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. I have many favorites. I would say my number one is Rosalind Franklin who made the first X-ray crystallography photos of DNA. That information was key in helping Watson & Crick figure out the structure of DNA.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
736
Why do potatoes have 48 chromosomes?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. It is interesting, but the actual number of chromosomes doesn't seem to relate to anything in particular. There is a small deer from India (the Indian Muntjac) that has 6 chromosomes, and a closely related species the Chinese Muntjac has 14 chromosomes. This is true in plants as well.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
737
are there any diseases that are preditermined by your DNA that you are born with?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Yes. Over 4000 medical conditions caused by mutations or changes in a person's DNA have been described. Some are apparent at birth, such as some skeletal dysplasias that cause, for example, short stature. Chromosome abnormalities such as Down syndrome (caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21) result in relatively small physical differences that are apparent at birth. Most genetic disorders are not physically obvious at birth.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator

2009 DNA Day Essay Contest Winners

The American Society of Human Genetics has just announced the winners of its 4th Annual National DNA Day Essay Contest, sponsored by Life Technologies. This year, high school students had a choice of answering two questions:

Question 1: Do all traits for all species come in only two varieties?

Question 2: What are the causes of human health and disease?


And the winners are:

For Question 1

  Student Grade Teacher School City State
1st Place Mehera Emrich 12 Jay Chugh Acalanes High School Lafayette CA
2nd Place Laura Molina 10 Cyndi Hoffman Viera High School Viera FL
3rd Place Stephen Wang 11 Beenu Gupta Charter School of Wilmington Wilmington DE


For Question 2

  Student Grade Teacher School City State
1st Place Michael Kovacs 12 Virginia Brown Winston Churchill High School Potomac MD
2nd Place Jennifer Li 11 Chad Ogren Enloe High School Raleigh NC
3rd Place Sharon Hartzell 11 Tina Giovenco Chenango Forks High School Binghamton NY


First place
winners will each receive $400 and their teachers will each get a $2,000 grant for laboratory genetics equipment.
Second place winners will each receive $250.
Third place winners will each receive $150.

Congratulations to all!



739
How many genes control your skin color? Is it possible to do a Punnett square to predict skin color?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. Skin color is determined by several genes (and how much time you spend exposed to the sun!). I don't believe you can do a Punnett square for it.
Branford High School in CT (10th grade student)
740
HAve there been any promising discoveries in the field of epignenetics in regards to cancer treatment?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. Yes - epigenetics, or changes to the DNA other than those related to the underlying DNA sequence, is an active area of research. For example, changes in DNA methylation patterns in some kinds of breast cancer have been shown to affect how well a patient responds to therapy.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
741
How does knowing someone's DNA profile affect their chances for future employment opportunities (for example...being an astronaut)?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Last year, the Genetic Information and Nondiscrimination Act was signed into law providing protections against discrimination based on your genetic makeup. However, this is still an important policy issue and more needs to be done to ensure employment, health insurance, life insurance, etc. is accessible to everyone.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (10th grade student)
742
Can a trisomy like Down Syndrome, which is identified before birth, be corrected before the child is born so that he won't have the syndrome?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. As you probably know, Down syndrome involves a person having an extra chromosome 21 in each and every cell of their body that exerts its effects from the time of conception.Therefore, trying to take that chromosome out would be essentially impossible early enough to make a difference. From a slightly different perspective, I would love to take away the medical problems people with Down syndrome experience, but I would not want to change them otherwise.
American History HS in NJ (10th grade student)
743
Could it be possible to have two completely identical twins?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. Good question. Even identical twins do not have completely identical DNA. They might start out that way, but as they grow and develop they would each aquire changes in their DNA that would make them less than 100% identical.
Shamokin Area High School in PA (9th grade student)
744
Is DNA edible?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Well now, that's an interesting question! The answer is that we eat DNA all the time, as all meats, fruits, vegetables, seeds and other food that was once living contains DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
745
Does depressive disorder carry genetic components? If so, do you know how much?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. So far, research suggests that up to about 40% of major depression may be due to genetic factors. But keep in mind that conditions like depression are complex and influenced by genetic as well as environmental factors.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
746
Do females have more of a chance for Cystic Fibrosis then men?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. Cystic fibrosis is a recessive disorder in which parents who both carry a mutation in the CF gene have a 25% chance of having a child affected with CF, despite whether that child is male or female. So mom has a 50/50 chance of passing on her mutant copy with every pregnancy, and dad has a 50/50 chance of passing on his mutant copy. 0.5 x 0.5 = .25.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
747
Would you clone a person if they paid millions of dollars to have a clone of themselves?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Even if it was currently possible to clone a human, the strong moral and ethical issues that this type of research brings up has lead to a number of regulations preventing this.
South View High School in NC (12th grade student)
748
How do cells make proteins using the message in DNA?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). First, DNA is transcribed into RNA. Then RNA is translated into proteins. There's a specific translation code at each step. Here's an animation that may help you visualize what's going on: http://www-class.unl.edu/biochem/gp2/m_biology/animation/gene/gene_a1.html
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
749
about how many jobs connect to DNA?
     Robin Troxell, B.S., M.S.: I am the prenatal genetic counselor for St John's Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic. I also serve as the University of Missouri's coordinator and pediatric genetic counselor for the Springfield Outreach Genetics clinic. Thousands of individuals have jobs or careers that involve DNA - any person in health care, for example, and many in research, law enforcement, teaching also use DNA or genetic technology.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
750
How are proteins turned on/off during your development, from embryo to adult?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. This is a question that developmental biologists are still trying to really understand. The primary method of controlling protein expression is through proteins called "transcription factors." The bind to DNA next to genes and turn on or turn off RNA expression. Since proteins are made from RNA, this is the key way cells control the expression of proteins.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
751
Will DNA ever be able to cure diseases that we cannot cure at the moment?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. This is a good question. Scientists are discovering new things about DNA all the time. This information can give doctors new information about how to find and treat many diseases. We expect that future discoveries will help us find cures or perhaps event prevent some disorders.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
752
is it possible to decode the whole human genome without the help of computers?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. The size of the human genome is 3 billion base pairs (A's, T's, G's and C's). Another way of thinking abouty it, if a person could type 60 words per minute for 8 hours a day without stopping, it would take about 50 years to type the human genome!! Much of the information that makes up your entire body is encoded in these letters so as you can imagine its going to be pretty complex to find out how it does this. Computers can crunch data much faster than we ever could manually so it has revolutionized the way we study biology!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
753
Is it possible for scientists to make animals that live longer and are immune to some diseases? What about humans?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. Yes, it is possible for scientists to breed animals that live longer and are disease resistant. Did you know that a lot of important discoveries are made in mice which have been specially designed to study specific conditions? So far we don't know how to do this in humans. The information that we have about how to live longer and avoid disease in humans comes from basic science, medical, and epidemiology studies.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
755
If genes can be turned on and off, can scientists learn how to turn them on and off?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). That's the subject of a lot of research, because turning genes on and off might help treat or even cure some diseases. One good example of this is the medicine Gleevec, which was developed to turn off some types of cancer cells in which cell growth has become stuck in the on position.
Branford High School in CT (10th grade student)
756
Is it possible that we currently carry one or more genes that can be traced to genetic interaction between early humans and the Neanderthals?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. There has been a recent project to sequence the Neanderthal genome, and with this new data, it was shown that early on, there probably was a small amount of DNA mixing between the two species. This mixing obviously ended when Neanderthals died out.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
757
What exactly in genetics causes fragile X syndrome?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Fragile X syndrome results from a person having an expansion of their DNA in a particular gene on the X chromosome called FMR1. The greater the expansion, the more likely they are to express Fragile X syndrome. It is inherited in an X-linked fashion with males expressing the condition more often than females.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
758
Is there any truth to the story that Watson and Crick stole their double helix idea from Rosalind Franklin?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Rosalind Franklin's research (X-ray diffraction images of DNA)was an important piece of background data that Watson and Crick used to model the structure of DNA. Whether or not they "stole" this data is a subject of debate, but many people feel that Franklin should have been recognized for her contribution along with Watson and Crick when they won the Nobel Prize.
J. Coringrato Jr. in NY (10th grade student)
759
How many genetic diseases are known, human or otherwise?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Just focusing on human genetic diseases, there are thousands. For example, there are more than 6,000 known single-gene disorders. There are also many diseases that are much more complex and involve multiple genes. Some examples are Alzheimer's, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease.
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
760
what is the most important thing to know about DNA?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Different people might have different answers to this question, but I think most important is the structure of the DNA. Because it is a double helix and the two strands have "complementary" sequences, exact copies of DNA can be made, allowing the information in the DNA to be passed from parent to child down through the generations - for thousands of generations!
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
761
As a genetic counselor, how do you deal wtih the line between what is "determined" by one's genome and what is a result of one's environment?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. Most diseases are a complex combination of genes and environment and we take both into account during a genetic counseling visit. So for example, a client may have a genetic change that predisposes him/her to a disease, but there might be environmental risk factors (diet, smoking habits, etc) that might also increase that person's risk for disease. One exception is Huntington disease which we think of as 'purely' genetic. That is, if a person has a mutation in the HD gene they will get HD eventually. We call this gene mutation completely penetrant in genetic lingo.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
762
Why is DNA called the blueprint of life?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Because all the information necessary to make a living organism is stored in the DNA. No other part of the cell contains a permanent record of how to make a new cell, or a new tissue, or a new organism.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
763
Why do things to the Human body occur when only 1 letter goes wrong in the DNA? ~Maria
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. That one letter can make a big difference in the way the body functions! For example, in a disease called Huntington's disease, a single change in the DNA changes the instructions for making an important protein in the brain. It actually causes changes in the brain that lead to jerky movements and a loss of brain function.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
764
How long is DNA in a human?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow In a single cell, about 2 meters.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
765
Sickle cell anemia can be advantageous because of its resistance to malaria. What other types of diseases are there that can be advantageous in certain situations?
     Robin Troxell, B.S., M.S.: I am the prenatal genetic counselor for St John's Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic. I also serve as the University of Missouri's coordinator and pediatric genetic counselor for the Springfield Outreach Genetics clinic. There is conflicting evidence that shows a possible protection against tuberculosis in healthy carriers for Tay-Sachs disease.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
766
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
767
Do our genes affect our race?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Racial identity is a social construct, not a biological one. Humans can not be divided into "races" based on genes. Human genetic variation exists on a continuum without sharp dividing lines.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
768
How different is a human's DNA to an animal's DNA (for example, a chimpanzee)?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. If you measure differences as the total number of bases in the human genome that don't match up with our closest living relatives such as the chimp then we are about 96% similar. if you only measure those parts of the DNA that code for protein (the genes) then we are more like 99% identical as we share virtually the same set of genes. As the organisms you compare to human get more distantly related to us (like rodents or birds) the differences dramatically increase.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (10th grade student)
769
What happens when there are more than 46 chromosomes?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Having extra chromosomes results in an imbalance of genetic information which effects the development of that embryo usually resulting in the loss of the pregnancy. There are a few exceptions; persons with Down syndrome have an extra #21 chromosome, boys/men with Klinefelter syndrome have an extra X chromosome.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
770
What are some of the current knock-out genes experiments being tested on in mice?
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. One type of experiment that is common is to knockout a mouse gene- for example, once a gene associated with cancer is knocked out, the next step would be to introduce the human form of that cancer gene into the mouse genome. That is called humanizing the mouse. Then you can observe the effects of that human gene on the mouse. At that point, you could test different drug therapeutics on the mouse to see what the effects on the human might be like before testing the drug in a clinical trial.
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
771
Where are you people chatting from?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Most of the DNA Dat experts are in a conference room on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD. Other experts are located around the country and contributing their comments remotely.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
772
How many diseases can be carried by the X and Y chromosomes?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. There are a handful of X- and Y- chromosomes diseases that are frequently described, such as Turner's syndrome, Klinefelter syndrome and Trisomy X, and XYY syndrome. But we are learning more about the human genome every day, and there may be other genetic changes in these chromosomes that we don't know about yet.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
773
What happens when dna mixes with harsh chemicals?
     Arjun Prasad, B.S.: My research area involves comparing genome sequences of different animals to understand how they are related and how genomes evolve. That really depends on the chemical. Some break DNA into pieces, others will actually change the DNA sequence. This damage to the DNA is one of the ways exposure to chemicals can actually cause cancer.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
774
Do you like your job and what got you interested in science?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. I have always liked science, perhaps because I like understanding how things work. Being a genetic counselor is a wonderful job, because I have the privilege of talking with all sorts of people, and helping them understand things that are very important to them. I also am happy that I learn new things every day - and I don't expect this to change because there are new discoveries every day.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
775
What are the most current advances in DNA research?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow There have been several discoveries linking gene variants to a number of different diseases. For example, genome-wide association studies has exponentially added to the scientific literature over the past four years. Check out http://www.genome.gov/26525384 for the latest published studies.
Archmere Academy in PA (9th grade student)
776
Do people still do research on the human genome?
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. The completion of the human genome project in 2003 marked the completion of sequencing the human genome. Today, people use the completed human genome sequence as an important tool in research in order to studying several different areas of science. To answer your question directly, yes, we are still extensively studying the human genome.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
777
Does DNA change throughout one's life?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. Our DNA does indeed change as we get older. Certain chemicals released when we break down food and other environmental influences like sunlight can modify the DNA in our cells. As these changes (or mutations) accumulate, our cells don't function as well as they used to and we age. Sometimes these changes can have other negative effects such as disrupting the proper regulation of cell division which can cause cancer. If these mutations occur in our sex cells (the ones that produce eggs in a woman, or sperm in a man) then those changes can be inherited by your children.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (9th grade student)
778
Do your genetics determine whether you are mathematically gifted or musically gifted?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Complex traits like these are influenced by an interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Though genes play some part, the environment (exposure to music or math at certain ages, access to instruments, having mentors in these areas) plays a major role.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
779
what does dna look like?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). In shape, on a molecular level it's a twisted helix - sort of like a spiral staircase with handrails on both sides of the steps. But if your biology teacher has you extract DNA by putting broccoli or strawberries or (gack!) liver in a blender, you will probably end up with a vial of clear liquid containing some whitish strings. The strings are very long molecules of DNA all coiled up around themselves.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
780
Is it possible that two homozygous twins are different from each other in immunological behaviour? If so, what factors are responsible for this situation apart from environment?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Epi-genetics refers to changes in gene expression that do not rely on the underlying genetic sequence. Methylation is one example of an epi-genetic phenomenon. Immunological differences in twins could potentially be explained by such mechanisms.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
781
Is it possible for one person's DNA to be transfered to a completely different person to make an exact clone???
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. There are experiments being done currently called SCNT or somatic cell nuclear transfer. This has been referred to as therapeutic cloning because the idea is to create a medium for embryonic stem cell research. So what happens is the nucleus of a person's somatic cell is removed and this nucleus is implanted into an enucleated donor egg (so the egg has had its nucleus removed too). Theoretically this egg/embryo will grow with the exact genetic makeup of the individual who donated their somatic cell. Then stem cells can be harvested for research purposes (diseases like Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, etc). This work is very new and is mostly being done in places like the UK.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
782
Do twins have the same DNA?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Identical twins have the same genomic sequence. However, there is some discussion in the scientific community about potential differences in a DNA structural feature called copy-number variations. The sequence isn't necessarily different but the number of times a segment of DNA is repeated can vary.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
783
Can we use our knowledge of DNA to help our ecosystem?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Absolutely! Research on DNA has all kinds of important uses for understanding the ecosystem. Monitoring biome populations, understanding evolving systems, identifying species, and on and on and on.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
784
There have only been 3 recorded cases of boy-girl monozygotic twins. Because their sex chromosome is different, are they not identical?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. They could not be identical if they have different sex chromosomes. You are right!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
785
Is there a certain gene or trait that makes the swirls and curves of our fingerprints?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. "Dermatoglyphics" is the word used to describe the ridge patterns of arches, loops, and whorls on our palms, fingertips and soles. The patterns are not determined by just one gene, but rather a set of genes. There are some differences between patterns of males and females, and some conditions (like Down syndrome) are associated with specific dermatoglyphic patterns.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
786
What kind of jobs are there in the field of genetics?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. There are many jobs that deal with genetics. They range from basic scientists doing research in labs, to medical geneticists who think about the role that genetics plays in the manifestation of various diseases, to genetic counselors who advise patients on their risk of certain diseases based on their personal genetic profiles...and many more.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
787
What type of computer are you using?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. For normal day to day work, I use an iMac. For heavy computational work, I use a Linux cluster.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
788
What is the genetic cause of Tay-sachs disease? Is it a missing or extra chromosome, or something else?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). Something else. It's related to a couple of specific genes, not to a whole chromosome-full of genes. Everyone has 2 copies of these genes. If only one copy is working correctly, the person is called a carrier of Tay-Sachs, but does not have the disease. But if two carriers of Tay-Sachs disease both pass on their non-working copy of the gene to the same child, then the child has 2 non-working copies and will express the features of the disease. This is what's known as autosomal recessive inheritance. Other conditions passed on in this way include cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, and many others.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
789
whats the difference between recessive and dominant traits?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). In recessive traits, both copies of the gene must be altered before the trait is expressed. In dominant traits, an alteration in one copy of the gene is enough for expression of the trait.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
790
Does DNA have any affect on balance?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. There are some examples where changes in DNA have been associated with balance. For example, ataxia telangiectasia is a rare genetic disorder, and people with this recessive disease show poor balance during childhood.
FBMM in NJ ()
791
What is RNA?What is the difference between RNA and DNA?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Both DNA and RNA stand for the chemical name of the molecules, deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid. Both are long chains composed of three types of building blocks, bases (the "A", "T" or "U", "C" and "G"), a phosphate group, and a sugar, either deoxyribose or ribose. They differ because DNA is double stranded, exact copies can be made of the DNA, and the DNA is the molecule in the reproductive cells. RNA is copied from DNA and is translated into protein in the cells. But it is not passed on to the next generation in humans like DNA is.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
792
When did DNA day begin?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. DNA Day began in April 2003 to celebrate the completion of the Human Genome Project and to mark the 50th anniversary of the description of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick. This is the 6th DNA Day. For more information, check out: http://www.genome.gov/10506367.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
793
Can gene therapy play a role in treatment of latent infections?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. As our knowledge about gene therapy grows, it is very likely to be applied to the treatment of all kinds of disease, genetic or not!
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
794
How long does it take for DNA to decompose?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow It depends what the conditions are. If DNA is left in liquid nitrogen, for example, it can be stored, theoretically, for hundreds if not thousands of years!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
795
Are there any difference in the DNA structure of humans or animals?
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. The DNA structure remains constant between plants and humans. To be more specific, DNA is always in the form of a double helix. The differences lie in the order of the nucleotides.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
796
Is there a reason why the physical traits of someone with down syndrome are so similar to someone else with down syndrome?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. Great question. A syndrome is a constellation of symptoms/features that tend to occur together. So when we say Down syndrome we think of characteristic facial features, learning disabilities/mental retardation, a crease in the palm sometimes called a simian crease, possible heart problems and gastrointestinal problems, etc. All of these features taken together make up the clinical picture of Down Syndrome. But most of Down syndrome is caused by the same genetic change--that is an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. Most of the time a person with Down syndrome has trisomy 21.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
797
How many diseases have scientist found a cure for?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. Over the centuries scientists have found cures for hundreds of diseases. This number will continue to increase as new discoveries are made.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
798
the role of bioinformatics in genome projects... what do you think
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. The size of many genomes that we want to sequence is very large. The human genome is 3 billion base pairs long! We therefore try and sequence genomes faster by splitting them into lots of little pieces and then sequencing these pieces randomly (this is called shotgun sequencing). Once we've have these sequences we have to try and put the sequences back together into the order they appear in reality and that would be really hard without bioinformatics! Bioinformatics also has a really important role in analyzing the function of the sequence.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)

Information - Moderator Please welcome Don Hadley. He's a genetic counselor whose done research on how people make decisions about genetic testing.


800
Would it be possible to mix the DNA of a human and another animal, in order to make cross-breed of a human and another animal? If so, would it be useful to society?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow First of all, humans are animals, so I think you mean mixing human DNA with the DNA of a nonhuman animal. That would be unethical, illegal, and not really useful.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
801
Do you ever joke around with your coworkers like switching their test tubes with ones full of grape juice or are you too serious for that?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. There are definitely times when practical jokes happen in the lab. You have to be careful though, because messing with some experiments could cost the lab thousands of dollars.
Scranton Preparatory School in PA (10th grade student)
802
is it posible to be born with an extra copy of your genome?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Having a whole extra copy of the genome would cause such a disruption in the developing embryo that it would not survive to be born. Good question!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
803
Is epigenetics the "way of the future," as in, is it the way to "program" genes just like you would on computer software? What role would genetics have?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Epigenetics may be a mechanism to change the expression of genes, that is, increase or shut down the amount of protein that is made from a gene. But the sequence of the gene will always be important because it carries the instructions for the proteins that are made.
Wilson High in OR (9th grade student)
804
Is there any possible way to cure fatal diseases, like cancer for instance, by altering someone's DNA?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). At the moment, we don't have a way to actually permanently alter a DNA mutation that a person was born with. To do that, we would need to change the mutation in every single cell of the body, so that all future cells would carry the corrected gene. We just don't have that technology yet, though there is research into gene therapy going on. At present, we can do work-arounds, such as using medicine to stop the effect of a mutation in DNA. An example of this is Gleevec, which is used to treat some kinds of cancer. Here's an animation that will help you understand how Gleevec works: http://www-class.unl.edu/biochem/gp2/m_biology/animation/gene/gene_a1.html
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
805
I am looking to put together a presentation about the pros and cons of the Human Genome Project. However, I have some difficulties in finding a great amount of the pros and cons. Any help from my fellow educators in our beautiful country would be most appreciated.
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. You may want to look at some of the original papers describing the goals and planning of the Human Genome Project before it was begun. There was a large amount of money set aside to address potential ethical issues that may have resulted. Any papers that discussed these issues would likely outline the pros and cons of the project. A good place to start would be searching Pub Med for "Human Genome Project".
joe bob in ND (Higher Education teacher)
806
Does it get tiresome spending days, weeks, months, maybe even years without results?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. It would if this was what happened! Hopefully, if you think hard enough about a project and think of the best ways of tackling it before you embark, you increase your chances of being successful. I think most of us would change tack or work on something else if we weren't getting results after a long time.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
807
When humans die, does DNA die immediately or does it last longer?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, my laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Most of the DNA breaks down pretty fast, but some it is preserved in peoples bones and can be recovered later to prove their identity.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
808
Why is DNA white for strawberries?
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. DNA is actually the same color for all species. You would think that since a strawberry is red, that the DNA would be red, but that is not the case. It is actually colorless, but sometimes it looks white. It can be compared to snot in some ways. Once you break down the tissue of a strawberry and go through the DNA extraction process, the red color goes away and all that is left is a snotty clear material that is DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
810
Is it possible genetically to mix human DNA with DNA from another species?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. There are some species that are related closely enough that you can interbreed them (like donkeys and horses), there are not any species that this would work for with humans.
Guymon High School in OK (12th grade student)
811
What are future goals that can improve the knowledge of genetics?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. One of the major questions that remains in the field is how genetic and environmental factors interact to produce phenotypes (visible traits). While there is likely not a straight forward answer to this question, it is a major focus of current research.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
812
Is DNA responsible for brain cells not being able replicate like other cells?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. DNA contains all the instructions for life so when an embryo is developing the DNA tells the embryo to make brain cells in a certain way. The recipe includes a stop signal so at some point the brain cells will stop replicating. This is in contrast to other tissues in the body which continue to replicate for longer periods (blood, skin, etc). So this is a real problem for people with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson disease because once the brain cells die, they cannot be replaced, and the person will develop progressive symptoms.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
813
Do dragons and lizards have similar DNA?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow If you are referring to the Komodo dragon, it is a species of lizard and so will most likely have similar DNA sequences to other species of lizards.
ITPT in NJ ()
814
HIV has proven to be a formidable enemy. How can our knowledge of DNA help put us a step ahead of the many mutations of this virus and allow us to conquer it?
     Monica Alvarado, M.S., C.G.C.: I am a board certified genetic counselor with over two decades of experience in clinical genetics, including prenatal, pediatric and cancer genetics. I have developed educational videos and written materials to educate Spanish-speaking populations on genetics topics. One approach that may be promising is gene therapy. Clinical trials are under way to explore the potential for gene therapy as a treatment for HIV.
American History HS in NJ (teacher)

Information - Moderator Joining us now from South Dakota is Dr. Alan Guttmacher, He's acting Director of NHGRI and a medical geneticist.


816
Is it possible that two different strains of MRSA can reside in same person's body?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. It is possible for one person to have more than one strain of MRSA. I wonder if that would make the symptoms any different than having just one strain?
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
817
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
818
Are some humans equipped with certain characteristics that would ensure that their genes would make it to the next generation?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. Over the whole human species, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what these characteristics are, since changes to the human genome have occurred over many millenia. But on a more immediate scale, pretty much any characteristic that leads to producing offspring ensures that that person's genes will make it to the next generation.
Mr. G in NY (teacher)
819
Studies of the nucleus of cancerous cells show a variety of mutations including jumbled up chromosomes. What are some possible causes of this?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). Cancer is a condition in which cell growth, including chromosome replication, gets all out of whack. As a result, cells may end up with fragmented chromosomes. Perhaps these videos will help: http://science.education.nih.gov/supplements/nih1/cancer/activities/activity2_animations.htm
St. Ignatius in IL (student)
820
Could DNA be used to combine two or more species and form a stronger being?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, my laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. When two species combine genetically they often produce a stronger organism like horses mating with donkeys to form mules. This is caused hybrid vigor. Combining of genetic material also happens with direct transfer from one bacteria to another and this can make the organism resistant to antibiotics.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
821
When I get older i'm planning on being a Pediatrician. Will I need to know about RNA for that.
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. First of all, congratulations on aiming for a life as a pediatrician. Being a pediatrician myself, I may be a bit biased but it is a wonderful career, and one in which you can do much good for children and families. In fact, to be a good pediatrician, you will not need to know much about RNA. However, you will need to know the fundamentals of genetics - such things as modes of inheritance (autosomal recessive vs. autosomal dominant, for example). By the time you will be a pediatrician, genetics and genomics will be applicable to the care of all your patients, so the most important thing will be to be interested in the fundamentals of genetics and learn more as we discover more in the years that you will be in high school, college, medical school and subsequent training.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
822
Have researchers found a way to rewrite DNA, such as changing how tall someone will be when they grow up?
     Judith Miller, M.S.: I am currently retired after working for 12 years as a genetic counselor. I provided general genetic counseling for 8 years, and then established a cancer genetics program. Gene therapy is a way to add a correctly functioning gene to a cell or group of cells in a particular tissue, but the process doesn't rewrite the DNA. Whether a particular trait can be changed by adding genes would depend upon many things, including whether the desired change would happen by treating one particular tissue or organ, such as the bone marrow or the liver. In addition, some traits such as height are partly determined by environment (a good diet for example).
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
823
When the regular cloning of humans begins, will restrictions be introduced to address the moral and cultural implications that would be associated with a person cloning themselves and having that clone as their personal servant?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. We have a long way to go before human cloning becomes "regular", both in terms of technological developments and also addressing the moral and ethical issues surrounding this type of research. Currently, there are a number of regulations preventing research that may lead to the cloning of a human being.
WNUK in WV (Higher Education student)
824
Can genetic modification be made to the plant Cannibus sativa to make some super skunky dank hydroponics?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow Genetic modification of plants is very common. Arabidopsis thaliana, for example, has been an extremely valuable model organism for exploring genetics and genomics.
Lord Corrington in NY (12th grade student)
825
Do countries collaborate in this discovery process? Such as China-America, Italy-Germany, Japan-England, etc.
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. Yes, genome research goes on around the world. This is a good thing, since it allows discovery to happen much faster. Also, since genetic factors affect the health of everyone in the world it is a real benefit to have research about these factors going on around the world.
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
826
How is it possible if my aunt and I are the only ones in the family that have blonde hair when both my parents have black and brown hair?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, my laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Blonde hair is considered a recessive trait, so your parents can both be carriers of a gene that encodes blonde hair and then you are born with blonde hair. I wondered about this when my first daughter was born with red hair - but photos showed that she had one blonde and one red haired grandparent on each side of the family.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
827
What organisms have the most complex DNA?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). DNA is pretty much DNA from organism to organism. But if you mean, which organism has the most chromosomes, then the answer is probably plants. Some species of plants have more than 1000 chromosomes per cell. Compare that to humans with 46 per cell and the deer someone else mentioned earlier with 6 per cell.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
828
How has DNA mutated over the time of evolution?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. There are a number of ways in the sequence of DNA can change over time. When DNA is copied to make new cells, sometimes the machinery that replicates the DNA makes the occassional mistake which can change the sequence. Environmental influences such as sunlight and chemicals we induce can also mutate the DNA sequence. Large scale changes such as duplications and deletions of whole chunks of chromosome can also occur when chromosomes recombine during meiosis. If these changes occur in the organism's sex cells, then it can pass these changes on to the next generation and this is how DNA changes over evolution.
Archmere Academy in DE (9th grade student)
829
What has been the silliest question you've answered so far today?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow We have received great questions all day!
Morgan Rucksack in TX (8th grade student)
830
Can a plant self-pollinate?
     Anna Rossoshek, M.S., M.B.A.: I have a grant portfolio mostly dealing with R13 conference grants. I am an active member of the Knockout Mouse Project program and GTEx program. My scientific background makes me proficient in mouse genetics and genomics, however, it is not limited to that. Sometimes. Only a few plants can do actually do this. If a plant has both a stamen and a carpel and the sticky stigma of the carpel contacts the stamen, then it can self pollinate.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
831
Can the increasing frequency of zoonotic diseases be related to the rate at which hyperevolution of bacteria/viruses is occuring or does it further support how closely related all living organisms are?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. The concept of hyperevolution of bacteria and viruses is probably an inaccurate concept. Any increases that might be occurring in zoonotic infection are probably a result of changing agricultural practices and a world where international travel is commonplace. In essence our world is more connected than it has ever been before.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
832
Why are some people talented at things and other not so? Does that have anything to do with genetics?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Genes may play a part in human characteristics like unique personal talents for music, sports, or math, but any role they play is minimal in comparison to that of environmental factors such as childhood exposure, access to mentors, and practice.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
833
What is the relation between the Human Genome Project and the Human Microbiome Project?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, my laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. The human microbiome project studies the bacteria, fungi, viruses and other small microorganisms that live in and on human bodies. We will need to understand the DNA of both our human and microbiotic cells in order to understand the susceptibility and onset of disease. Bacterial cells outnumber human cells by 100:1 but human cells have 1000 times more DNA per cell than a bacteria.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (Higher Education teacher)
834
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
835
Can a cow get the same Genetic diseases as a human?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. Actually, many genes in cattle (about 75% or more) have similar functions to those in humans. Believe it or not, the cow is an animal model for studying citrullinemia - a disease that leads to toxic substances accumulating in the blood.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
836
Is it truly possible to regrow human fingers?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh are working with the military to do regenerative tissue research, as you can imagine this is a priority because a number of soldiers are returning from battle with missing limbs, digits, etc. Wake Forest University is also doing research in this area and claim to have successfully created 18 types of tissue in the lab (in vitro). So in theory the answer is YES, but I'm sure it depends on other factors like how much nerve damage has occurred, etc.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
837
Although the four nitrogen bases are specificly paired (a-t and c-g) is it possible for an a to go with c or g?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Mis-pairings do occasionally occur. This will cause a little "bulge" in the DNA and special enzymes will come and correct the mistake.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
838
We want this DNA day be converted to International DNA Day. What efforts from us are expected to approach International Biological community, such as WHO or UNESCO ?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. That is a wonderful idea. We have had some very preliminary thinking along the same lines. We here in the U.S. would be very interested in working with others to make DNA Day truly international. Everyone in the world has DNA, so DNA Day deserves to be global. You might start by contacting your own government ministries involved with science and education and get them on board, but approaching WHO or UNESCO is a great idea. If enough of us did that, it just might work!
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (teacher)
839
What gives DNA its double helix shape?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. Its the physical properties of the atoms that make up the DNA strand itself. The magnetic properties of the atoms and molecules and bond angles between atoms which creates the physical phenomenon of twisting present in the double helix.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
840
how much of mendels life did mendel dedicate to researching and science?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. Mendel was a dedicated scientist, but his main profession was as an Augustinian priest. I imagine that was a pretty heavy demand on his time, which makes his scientific work on genetics all the more remarkable.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
841
My cousin is 1/4 African American and 1/2 Mexican and 1/4 white. Both his parents are dark complected, but he is light complected with black hair. How did that happen?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. What you see is not always what you get when it comes to genetics! It is likely that several genes were involved in producing the differences you noted in your cousin and not likely to be a simple answer. This is an area that we hope to learn more about and is referred to as complex genetics (gene-gene and gene-environment interactions).
Guymon High School in OK (11th grade student)
842
In the origin of life what appeared first DNA or RNA or something else ?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, my laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. The theory is that RNA came first in the origin of life because it is more simple but of course there is no definitive proof.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (Higher Education teacher)
843
A gene is related to the function it performs. Why do we relate a gene with a disease?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. You are absolutely right, a gene is related to the function it performs. For example, if the function of a gene is to stop tumor growth (these are called TSGs or tumor suppressor genes) and one of these genes contains a change/mutation which causes it not to function, than this gene cannot do its job. Tumor growth will not be suppressed and this is where uncontrolled cell proliferation can occur, also known as cancer. So in this case we get disease because the gene doesn't function properly.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
844
What are some of the diseases that have been cured because of the genome project?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. Since the genome project ended only 6 years ago, it is a bit early to look for diseases to have been truly cured by it - science takes time and truly "curing" (rather than treating or preventing) a disease is tough work. However, the genome project and other related efforts have already begun to unlock the secrets of numerous diseases, and I expect that in not that many years there will be many diseases for which we will be able to say that genomics has led to great new treatments and prevention strategies and, for at least some, a true cure.
PGH CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
845
Is being gay or lesbian determined by DNA?
     Claire Noll, M.S., C.G.C.: I work with a cardiovascular genetics research team and manage a registry project for people who have developed aortic aneurysms (or are at risk of developing an aneurysm). That's not clear. No study so far has shown that it is related to the effect of a single gene, in the way that conditions such as cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs disease are. Studies in animals have suggested that environmental influences, even in the womb, may have an effect. But most likely one's gender orientation is a complex condition with many contributing factors.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
846
Is there a Z chromosome that comes after X and Y?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. "X" and "Y" were the first terms used for sex chromosomes, for birds, the sex chromosomes are actually termed "W" and "Z."
Cornelius Magillicutty in VT (5th grade student)
847
Can DNA alter your personality?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. Human personality is influence by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, so DNA does not necessarily "alter" your personality, but your genes do play a role in individual traits.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
848
For non-natural amino acids, what would you need to add in order to incorporate that amino acid to your translation product?
     Ed Ramos, Ph.D: Science Policy Analyst and Research Fellow tRNAs are the structures that recognize codons and facilitate translation into an amino acid. There are known mutations in tRNAs that result in recognition of a quadruplet dna sequence instead of the normal triplet sequence. Therefore, the study of tRNAs, specifically, amber suppressor tRNAs will provide tremendous insight into the ability to insert an unnatural amino acid. Excellent question!
Rumple Stilskin in DE ()
849
What generates RNA?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. RNA is a single stranded molecule and it carries the intermediary message between the storage molecule DNA to the the ribosome protein factory. To generate RNA from DNA, the DNA acts a template and a protein called RNA polymerase runs along the DNA sequence incorporating complementary nucleotides into a single RNA molecule.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
850
I have always wanted to be fly. Is there any way I can be genetically modified so I could have the wings of an eagle and so that I may soar above the clouds?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, my laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. I think you're better off investing your time and energy in engineering eagle wings that you could strap on. It seems to me that wings might get in the way for other human activities and not be evolutionarily advantageous.
University of Iowa Dental School in IA (Higher Education student)
851
What is the difference between human and ape DNA?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, my laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. There is very little difference between human and ape DNA. However we think that the differences are very important to evolve functions like language and an opposable thumb.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Joining us now is Angela Darnell, a genetic counselor who focuses on prenatal care.


853
What gene is involved in asthma?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. Asthma is caused by no single gene. It is due to complex interactions between numerous genes and numerous non-genetic factors (such as exposure to cigarette smoke, pollution, or allergens). In the past few years, a number of genes (such as CHI3L1 and interleukin genes IL4 and IL13) have been found to play a role in asthma, but there are undoubtedly more to be discovered.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
854
I think PET scans are exciting! What applications does the field of genetics have for PET imaging?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. PET imaging will provide some interesting insights into the effects of genes on biochemical processing that occurs within our bodies. Several studies of persons with Huntington disease have utilized PET scans to understand brain processing in the early stages of HD.
Samantha John in NJ (Higher Education )

Information - Moderator Please welcome Stephanie Kramer, a genetic counselor.


856
Do you need to study DNA to find cures or does it just help?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. It just helps. For years science had to find cures for disease without using DNA. The progress was often slow, however. Now, with rapidly expanding knowledge of the DNA sequence that is the human genome and of how the genome works, we have valuable new tools that will be used frequently in future efforts to cure disease.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
857
Do you think that in any point in the near future we can clone a human?
     Julie Segre, Ph.D.: Combining classical genetics techniques and modern genomic tools, my laboratory uses mouse models to investigate the function of novel genes important for in utero human epidermal development, normal wound healing, and skin regeneration. Cloning a human would be morally reprehensible as well as technically impossible. However, cloning organs such as a new pancreas to help patients with diabetes is a goal of stem cell research.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is a genetic counselor who studies complex diseases. Her name is Courtney Nichols.


859
What compels you to research DNA?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. I think what compels most scientists who research DNA is a combination of curiosity and a desire to help people. Today's understanding of DNA gives us an unparalleled opportunity to figure out important questions that biologists and physicians have pondered for centuries. To researchers, who tend to be naturally curious, it is very exciting to be involved in answering such big questions. We also expect that answering these questions will enable dramatic improvements in how we treat and even prevent many diseases, and it is certainly rewarding to do work that you think will lead to improved health for many people.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
860
How did people found out about body cells?
     Shawn Burgess, Ph.D.: My research area involves studying developmental processes and their relation to human genetic disease. The earliest experiments were done with microscopes. Under a microscope you can see both cells and some of the organelles.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
861
is there any advantage of having higher G+C ratio than A+T ratio for any gene ?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. Great question! G+C and A+T ratios differ greatly across the genome. In general, protein coding sequences are more G+C rich than other parts of the genome as G's and C's make up many of the codons that are required to code for proteins. I think the question of whether base pair ratios in genes influences the function is still unknown. Certainly, the G-C base pairing is thremodynamically stronger than the A-T base pair so its possible that this might affect the speed of transcription - but I dont think anyone has studied this yet.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (Higher Education teacher)
862
Recently there was news in media that babies of mothers less than 5ft 3inch have high mortality. Is there any genetic basis for this ?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. I'm not aware of the specific study, but I would take into account other factors in predicting mortality such as maternal weight/BMI, nutrition, age, genetic background, and general health. It could be the researchers have found an association with height that is really a result of other factors strongly associated with height.
B.B.S.P.Nag SMVCBT, Nagpur, INDIA (Higher Education teacher)
863
What is the best way to get into the genomics field as a career both during college and after?
     Sarah Knerr, B.A.: I am a post-baccalaureate fellow in a lab whose research addresses the intersection of human genetic variation, constructs of race and ethnicity, and health disparities. The best way to gain experience in the field, both in college and after, is to shadow researchers working in genetic and genomics. Additionally, working in a genetics laboratory will provide you with great training and skills.
Rockville High School in MD (9th grade student)
864
What kind of TRAINING do scientists go through to look at DNA?
     Stephanie Kramer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who works with pregnant patients to determine risks to their offspring and testing options. I also am involed with cancer genetic counseling meeting with families with a history of cancer and reviewing genetic testing options available to them. It really depends on what kind of scientists you are talking about. Genetic Counselors have a masters degree. Many laboratory personel can have bachelor, masters, or doctorate degrees.
Frank Keyack (Higher Education student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Della Brown White. She studies genetic research among minority populations.


866
There is several cases where I have known someone that has never lifted weights or did any kind of workout before in their life, but they are extremely strong. Does this have to do with any kind of inheritance or DNA.
     Angela Darnell, M.S.: I am a prenatal genetic counselor for a high risk, maternal/fetal medicine group in Charlotte, NC. Our bodies are all unique. Some people are taller, some people are skinnier. Some people may just have more lean or stronger figures. It is important for everyone to stay active to keep their muscles strong.
Shikellamy High School in PA (9th grade student)
867
Is it possible to clone a woolly mammoth?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Not right now. It's not possible to clone a woolly mammoth, because we would need to have the complete sequence of the mammoth genome, the technology to put the DNA into an egg from an appropriate animal and then, most importantly, address and solve all the unforeseen problems that will arise with such a complicated experiment.
Guymon High School in OK (10th grade student)
868
Do you know any good genetic jokes?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. I have always liked the observation of the humorist Garrison Keillor (of Prairie Home Companion on public radio) to the effect that "Sitting around the Thanksgiving table is what makes you thankful that not everything is genetic."
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is another genetic counselor. Sandy Woo provides support to families who have birth defects or genetic disorders.


870
How frequent is adult onset Tay-Sachs?
     Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I am working with a number of investigators around the country on a program that is designed to take the most promising genetic variants from recent studies and learn more about them in large populations with extensive data. This question has not been well studied. The best estimates of Tay Sachs are from the child onset form and vary by population, but a general estimate is around 1/300. Adult onset Tay Sachs is very rare and much more difficult to quantitate, since it represents a spectrum of disease.
Davenport West High School in IA (9th grade teacher)
871
What organisms contain the highest amount of chromosomes in a single cell?
     Stephanie Kramer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who works with pregnant patients to determine risks to their offspring and testing options. I also am involed with cancer genetic counseling meeting with families with a history of cancer and reviewing genetic testing options available to them. Good question. Many different organisms have varying numbers of chromosomes humans have 46 chromosomes in each cell and some other animals have more or less chromosomes.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
872
Why do fruits have more DNA than humans?
     Stephanie Kramer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who works with pregnant patients to determine risks to their offspring and testing options. I also am involed with cancer genetic counseling meeting with families with a history of cancer and reviewing genetic testing options available to them. The amount of DNA in an organism is determined by many things including evolution. Some DNA is considered "Junk" DNA and does not actually code for proteins. Therefore, some organisms may have more DNA, but may not have as much "working" DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator Our next chatter is Dr. Larry Brody. He oversees a lab that researches everything from breast cancer to birth defects.


874
How do you find traits in DNA?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. One common method is look for a statistical correlation between the occurrence of a phenotype, like a disease, and the occurrence of a genetic marker, like a known nucleotide difference.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
875
How would or could you cure genetic disorders using DNA?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. It would be difficult to use DNA itself to cure a genetic disorder. (Of course to truly cure any disease is difficult.) It is really using knowledge about how DNA is structured and how it functions that one can use to fashion a cure - or at least an effective treatment. For instance, if you learn that a variant in the DNA leads to a specific disorder through a specific biological pathway, that would tell you to think about ways to twaek that pathway to treat the disease.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
876
What happens if DNA has been mixed with harsh chemicals???
     Stephanie Kramer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who works with pregnant patients to determine risks to their offspring and testing options. I also am involed with cancer genetic counseling meeting with families with a history of cancer and reviewing genetic testing options available to them. It depends on what chemical is being used. Some chemicals may not affect DNA while others may degrade DNA or make it unable to be used for testing purposes.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
877
Is it possible that you can alter your genetic code to make your cells complete mitosis quicker, possibly making regeneration a plausible idea?
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. We all have genes in our DNA that regulate the speed of the cell cycle. These genes tell our cells how quickly to divide and how many times division should take place. Currently, chemicals are used in labs that can tell the cell cycle to start mitosis or make the resting phase shorter to speed up cell division. This changes the way the DNA functions without actually changing the genetic code. We also see rapid cell division in human beings, but this more often leads to cancer or tumor growth rather than the regeneration of an organ or limb.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
878
Did you expect to find so many base pairs before beginning the genome project? If not, how many did you expect?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Yes, the number of bases was very close what we expected. The total mass of DNA in the each cell was estimated a long time ago (by using dyes that bind to DNA). Later we determined the mass of a single base (using chemistry). With these two bits of information, scientists could estimate the total number of bases in a genome.
Branford High School in CT (10th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Kris Wetterstrand. She helps guide our large scale sequencing program.


880
How much does DNA contribute to emotional disorders?
     Amanda Singleton, M.P.H.: I'm a genetic counseling student who's ready to answer your questions about health conditions. Emotional and psychiatric disorders are more difficult to study because it's hard to quantitate or easily measure emotional and psychiatric features. But we are learning that there is certainly a genetic component to many of these disorders. Most likely, emotional disorders are a combination of genetic predisposition and environment or life situation. You can imagine that a person who has a genetic risk for being depressed (maybe they have other family members with depression, alcoholism, or anxiety) who has also has a difficult life situation might be at higher risk for depressive symptoms compared to a person with an 'easy' life situation.
Rockville High School in MD (9th grade student)
881
Immunological detection or DNA-based detection, which one do you think is better for detection of chlamydia infections?
     Alan Guttmacher, M.D.: I oversee the institute's efforts in advancing genome research, integrating the benefits of genome research into health care, and exploring the ethical, legal, and social implications of human genomics. This is not an area in which I am expert. However, my limited understanding is that the currently preferred method of testing is nucleic acid amplification.
SMV Center for Biotechnology, Nagpur (teacher)
882
Can artificial genes be created?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Scientists can manipulate stretches of DNA, like genes, and put them in model organisms. Scientists can also put together stretches of DNA from scratch, as long as they know the appropriate sequence of nucleotides. The trick, and this is the hard part, is knowing what DNA the gene should have.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
883
Can cloning bring back species that are extinct like the Cerberus?
     Courtney Nichols, Sc.M.: I am a genetic counselor in the Center for Complex Disease Genomics at Johns Hopkins University. I coordinate a study on the genetics of Hirschsprung disease and play a role in studies of several other complex diseases. Theoretically, if you could get enough DNA from an extinct animal and put it into an egg of a closely related animal this could be a possibility. However, some attempts at cloning animals have shown that the clones have various health problems or do not survive. So currently we do not have the ability to bring back extinct species. For the cerberus, I read that it is a mythological animal so I don't know that it could ever be cloned even if we gain better technology because we have to have remains of an animal to get DNA from.
Ravi Jaggernauth (10th grade student)
884
Does DNA make you think like your parents?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: I examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. Our DNA can affect the way we think. DNA gets passed down from generation to generation so yes we can inherit some aspects of the way we think from our parents. However, there are other environmental factors that can influence the way we think to make us all unique individuals.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
885
Would it be possible to find the DNA sequence that makes animals have claws and fangs?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. All physical traits such as claws and fangs are genetically determined. These features in these species are often modified version of things we already know about. The developmental genes responsible for making your finger nails are likely to be the same as the ones that make claws in other mammals such as cats but have been tweaked over evolution. There are probably several genes involved. In the future, as we find out more and more about the role of different genes in the genome we should be able to discern those responsible for these traits.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
886
What possibilities does stem cell research give us?
     Sandy Woo, M.S.: I provide information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders, and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. I assess risks, facilitate decison making, and educate families on said defect or condition. Stem cell research opens the door to many possibilities in medicine and science as these cells can be used to replace or even heal damaged tissues and cells in the body. Keep in mind that the promise of stem cells is still just that; much more needs to happen before any of the research can be applied clinically.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
887
What are the qualifications to becoming a person that studies DNA as a profession?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. There are several jobs that require working with DNA. If you want to be a scientist, you will need to attend college first. After graduating from college, you can attend graduate or medical school to be become a geneticist or molecular biologist. There are also many individuals who work in research and clinical carrying out experiments. These jobs usually require a four year college degree.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
888
Why is it that only certain colors can be inherited as human traits? For example why are eyes only blue, green, etc.
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. I am sure that there is a specific answer related to eye color that has to do with biochemistry of the eye. But I will answer the question a little more generally. The reason that certain human traits don't exist in the population is that the DNA mutation(s) that would cause the trait 1) hasn't ever occurred or 2) has occurred, but was bad for the organism, so didn't survive.
East Haven High School in CT (10th grade student)
889
Is it possible to change a person's DNA in order to cure a disease?
     Don Hadley, M.S., C.G.C.: I focus on researching the components of a genetic counseling session, including how people are informed of genetic disorders and how they make decisions regarding genetic testing. Gene therapy attempts to insert properly functioning copies of DNA into a person with the hope of correcting the disease. Most gene therapy is still being tried within research settings to improve its usefulness. Immune deficiency disorders, eye diseases affecting the retina and some forms of cancer are currently utilizing gene therapy as a research tool to "cure" the disease.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
890
With DNA and cloning, Is it possible to bring back great leaders of the past like Kennedy, Lincoln, and Damocles?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. No. The leadership traits of each individual including those that are recognized as great leaders are based upon their life experiences.
Geoff Toyz in TN (Higher Education student)
891
In what year was DNA discovered?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. DNA was first discovered way back in 1869 by Johann Friedrich Miescher. He called his molecule nuclein, but today we know that Miescher's nuclein was actually DNA and RNA. It wasn't until the 1950's that DNA was determined to be the genetic material. This was accomplished by two scientists, Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase, who studied viral replication in bacteria. But the "great" discovery was still to come in 1953 when James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the three-dimensional structure of DNA: a double helix.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
892
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
893
Is it possible to repair DNA that has pieces missing?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Yes, your cells do this all the time. There are often bases of DNA that are damaged. Your cells have many different proteins whose job it is to find and fix these breaks in DNA. These proteins can use the other strand of DNA to copy the correct base.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
894
Can a fully human monoclonal antibody prevent skeletal related events and at the same time not cause osteonecrosis of the jaw?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. You're likely thinking of Bevacizumab, more commonly known as Avastin, the first clinically available angiogenesis inhibitor in the United States and a monoclonal antibody. As of now, only a handful of clinical studies speak to skeletal events, not enough data yet to fully answer this question.
Geoff Toyz in TN (Higher Education student)
895
My dad Sam works on clinical trials involving PET scans and biomarkers. Is this a respectable job?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Not only is this respectable, it's a career to be proud of. Your dad is helping to advance the field of medical science and to ease the suffering of human kind. How can there be a higher calling?
Noah John in NJ (5th grade student)

Information - Moderator Now joining us is Sharon Terry, President of the Genetic Alliance. Her group is the voice of millions of families affected by a genetic condition.


897
Why do we have a holiday just for DNA?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: I run the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. National DNA Day was instituted by the National Human Genome Research Institute in 2003, and celebrated every year since! It is a day for students, researchers, and others to think about what understanding our genome means to individuals, families and communities!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
898
Is being late to work and oversleeping a hereditary trait?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Hmmm? Maybe but I would think environment and the failure to have a good alarm clock is important.
Geoff Toyz in TN (Higher Education student)
899
How can you tell how long DNA is?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Yes. We know the size of each base (building block) in DNA. To get a length you can multiply the size of each base by the number of bases present. For example, the total amount of DNA is each human cell is roughly 2 meters (over 6 feet!) long and is made of of six billion bases.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
900
Genome scientists say that 98% of genome is junk DNA and don't encode any functional gene but, on the other hand, the SINE and LINE are being encoded?
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. Only a small portion of LINEs encode genes for functional proteins. These proteins are typically elements used for transposition of the LINEs such as reverse transcriptases and endonucleases. SINEs do not typically code for such transpositional machinary and rely on the reverse transcriptase genes and endonuclease genes elsewhere the DNA in order to be transposed.
Balochistan University (Higher Education student)
901
Right now it seems there's a race for being able to sequence an entire human genome for under $1000. When do you think this will become a reality?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Hello, Cornell. DNA sequencing technologies are advancing at an incredible rate. There are a number of companies with so-called "next-gen" (or "now-gen") platforms operating right now that have brought the cost of sequencing down related to traditional capillary methods. With a number of other companies working on even faster and cheaper platforms, I think the $1000 genome will happen soon. So, I would say it will happen in the next 3-4 years.
Cornell University in NY (Higher Education student)
902
Are there specific indications of differences expected in those traits determined by nature in contrast to those by nurture?
     Phyllis Frosst, Ph.D.: I investigate genetic discrimination, direct-to-consumer marketing of genetic tests and pharmacogenomics. Traits determined by "nature" or genetics are likely to be observed in particular inheritance patterns in families. Studies of identical and fraternal twins can help to determine the differences of genetics and environment (nature and nurture) as well.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
903
How do scientists actually go about removing the DNA or RNA from viruses since their "anatomy" is so much different than ours?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. DNA is extracted from a human cell by breaking down the membranes of the cell and releasing the DNA into the surrounding media. While cells are maintained by active complex membranes, viruses are simple and are basically some DNA/RNA surrounded by a protein coat. Therefore, if we break down the wall of the virus we can release the genetic material in the same way.
St. Ignatius in IL (12th grade student)
904
How do most people celebrate DNA day?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Classrooms across the country celebrate DNA Day in many different ways. Check the DNA Day Facebook page to see how students and classes are celebrating DNA Day in 2009. We hope that teachers and student use DNA Day to explore the importance of genetics in our lives.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
905
Does a psychopath have different DNA than a normal person does?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: I examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. Our genes can interact with each other and also interact with the environment to create changes in our DNA that make us different and unique. Hence, there are changes that can occur in our DNA that affect our mental health but there are environmental factors (e.g., stress, abuse) that can affect our mental health. This is a very complex issue and research is being done to understand the role of DNA in mental health.
Guymon High School in OK (11th grade student)
906
Why is DNA shaped like a double helix?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. The two strands of DNA match each other. When they are zipper together, they have a tendency to twist. You can mimic this by placing to pieces of rope or string next to each other. Hold them together at each one end and twist the other end. You will see that the two pieces wind around each other like a helix.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)

Information - Moderator We now have Carrie Heuer joining us. She's a genetic counselor who works with individuals who have a family history of cancer.


908
I have always loved pizza so much ever since I was a kid, it's like I was born loving it. Does genetics influence our cravings for certain foods?
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. It is likely that our genes play a role in the way our bodies experience and react to the chemicals of food. Specific sensations of bitterness, sweetness, and saltiness might actually "taste" different to different people and cause different responses of pleasure in the body. We also know that the environment and culture play a role in the enjoyment of food. So it is probably a little environmental and a little genetic that you crave pizza!
ITFG in NJ ()
909
Who was Mendel?Why is he important?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Gregor Mendel was an Austrian monk. He carried out experiments by growing peas of different types. He found that the characteristics of the peas were passed to their offspring in a very predictable pattern. His observations become the foundation for genetics.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
910
I read that it takes 8 hours for a cell to copy its DNA. Is that true, and if so, are there mistakes made?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Depends on the kind of cell. A bacteria doesn't take that long. There can certainly be mistakes made when DNA is copied. Sometimes the enzymes involved in DNA replication make mistakes.
Branford High School in CT (10th grade student)
911
My friend has a rare genetic disease (Cohen-Toyes Syndrome). It produces a large amount of natural MAOI inhibitors resulting in his inability to get excited or upset. The disease has also been known to create multple skelatal related events (SREs) Has there been any research to cure these rare genetic diseases?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: I run the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. Hi, sorry for the difficulty your friend experiences. I do not have any specific information about that disease, but can give you a general answer and then some resources. In general, there are 6000 rare genetic diseases, and only hundreds are studied. It is not easy to find out which ones are being studied, but I can give you a few places you can look. First, if the disease is very rare, look in PubMed - the index of all peer-reviewed biomedical research papers - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/ Then, look in these databases for information on the disease that might lead you to research: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/RareDiseaseList.aspx?PageID=1 http://www.geneticalliance.org/ Good luck - maybe you can become a scientist and research it too!
Alexandar Conference Room in NJ (9th grade student)
912
How do you chart the DNA after getting the DNA out of the research subject?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. The DNA can be analyzed once we have isolated it from a cell. We can sequence the DNA and then identify interesting information on any changes that may be responsible for the disease we are studying.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
913
How do you chart the DNA after getting the DNA out of the research subject?
     Adam Woolfe, B.Sc. (Honors), M.Sc., Ph.D: My job entails researching aspects of genomics using both computational and experimental approaches. I am currently looking at devising computational approaches to identify novel mutations that cause disease by disrupting splicing. You can analyzed DNA by a number of methods, once you have it isolated from a research subject. One way is to sequence it. The sequencing process determines the specific order of the 4 chemicals, called nucleotides, in stretch of DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
914
How long does is take for DNA to multiply?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. DNA is copied by an enzyme called DNA polymerase. Under ideal conditions, this enzyme can copies hundreds of DNA bases per second. The amount of DNA varies from organism to organism. Bacteria can copy all of their DNA in about 40 minute. Mammals have very large genomes and even though they start copying them at many spots at once, it can take over eight hours to make a complete copy.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
915
Can DNA tell a persons skin color?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. Multiple genes are involved in pigmentation. For example geneticist Keith Cheng, M.D., Ph.D. and his colleagues identified gene SLC24A5 which is involved in pigmentation in 2005 that helps us understand skin color. Learning about skin pigmentation is important for our understanding skin cancer.
Pittsburgh CAPA in PA (9th grade student)
916
What can stem-cell research accomplish?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Stem cells are powerful research tools because they still have the ability to change into different types of cells. When cells develop in to different types, like a muscle cell or a nerve cell, different genes have already been turned on and off.
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
917
What does an epidemiologist do?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: I run the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. An epidemiologist studies the incidence, distribution, and control of disease in populations. This means they examine a population - defined many ways, for example, a geographic, disease, or ethnic group - and collect information about who has disease, how it manifests and how it might be controlled or prevented. It relies on statistics to determine trends, progression, spread and other parameters. Epidemiologists work on outbreaks of infectious disease, increases in diseases like obesity or asthma, and genetic diseases in populations. A good example of an epidemiological study is the Framingham Heart Study. You can read about it here: http://www.framinghamheartstudy.org/
Yukon High School in OK (12th grade student)
918
Is it true that when both parents are left handed, the child will be left handed too?
     Sandy Woo, M.S.: I provide information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders, and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. I assess risks, facilitate decison making, and educate families on said defect or condition. The child will certainly have a greater likelihood of being left handed! Whether you are left or right handed is determined to a large extent by genetics but it is not the only cause. It's been estimated that even when both parents are left handed, their children have approximately 1/4 (25%) chance of being left handed. Other genes or environmental factors probably moderate the expression "handedness."
Creative and Performing Arts High School in PA (9th grade student)
919
Why is DNA important?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. DNA contains all the information and instructions to make a copy of an organism. Humans inherit half of their DNA from each parent. The information coded in the DNA can determine many of your physical characteristics. Some specific mistakes in DNA can cause inherited diseases. When DNA becomes damaged in your cells, it can lead to cancer.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
920
Why is DNA day so important?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: I examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. DNA Day is important because it is a celebration of the completion of the Human Genome Project. The completion of the project has allowed for a lot of really exciting advances in science. As we continue to move forward in understanding how these advances can be used to improve health for all individuals, it is good to be reminded of how we go to where we are. DNA Day offers a special time to do so.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
921
What would be the steps to reprogramming DNA?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Simply put, a piece of DNA that has been biochemically manipulated, would need to be successfully introduced into an organism. Some of the difficulties involved in this are: knowing the sequence of the DNA that we want to introduce into a subject and then successfully introducing it. Easier said than done.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
922
Is milk the only lactase there for drinks?
     Stephanie Kramer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who works with pregnant patients to determine risks to their offspring and testing options. I also am involed with cancer genetic counseling meeting with families with a history of cancer and reviewing genetic testing options available to them. Milk contains lactose and some individuals are unable to break down lactose. There are other options for these individuals. For instance there are formulas avialable that do not contain lactose for infants who cannot drink lactose.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
923
What if you have the same DNA as a stranger?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. All animals and plant use the same molecule, DNA, to transmit information but the exact sequence of the DNA always differs between species. Even siblings have different sequences of their DNA. Only identical twins share the same DNA. Unless that stranger is your long lost identical twin, your DNA will be different from theirs.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
924
What is junk DNA?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. "Junk" DNA is the term commonly used to refer to DNA that does not specify, or code, a protein - DNA that is not part of genes. However, scientists don't think that this DNA is really junk. We know that some of it is involved in the regulation of genes (when genes are turned on or off) and is involved in DNA structure.
Spanish River Community High in FL (11th grade student)
925
DO TWINS HAVE THE SAME DNA
     Stephanie Kramer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who works with pregnant patients to determine risks to their offspring and testing options. I also am involed with cancer genetic counseling meeting with families with a history of cancer and reviewing genetic testing options available to them. Fraternal twins (non-identical) do not have the same DNA. Identical twins are made from the same embryo which splits very early and they usually have the same gene complement.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
926
How can DNA be turned on and off?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. There are a number of regulatory mechanisms that turn DNA on and off. There are repressor proteins that bind to DNA and keep some genes from producing proteins. There is DNA methylation (where methyl groups are attached to the DNA strand) that can inactivate genes.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
927
Should cloning be legal?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. There are many different kinds of cloning. If you've ever grown a plant from a cutting, you cloned that plant. In the lab we clone (a form of copying) DNA molecules all the time. Almost everyone agrees that these types of cloning are okay to do. Researcher's have also made clones from mouse cells to study cancer and other diseases. It may be technically possible to use cloning to make a copy of a human being. This type of cloning is very controversial and currently prohibited in the US.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
928
Kris, what is your opinion of this sequence: ACTGGCGATCG?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Of the top of my head, I do not recognize this DNA pattern as anything of particular interest. However, there are a number of sequence patterns that are repeated in the genome that can have particular functions, like being places for regulatory proteins to bind.
Johnathan Lot in VA (11th grade student)
929
Why is cloning dangerous
     Courtney Nichols, Sc.M.: I am a genetic counselor in the Center for Complex Disease Genomics at Johns Hopkins University. I coordinate a study on the genetics of Hirschsprung disease and play a role in studies of several other complex diseases. We do clone bacteria and some cells to use in scientific research. This type of cloning is not dangerous. The major concerns about cloning come from cloning animals or humans. We don't understand how cloning affects the health of the clone and many clones that have been made have health problems or do not survive. The concerns about cloning humans move beyond health concerns to ethical concerns about trying to another copy of a human. What rights would a clone have? How would being a copy psychologically affect the clone and the original? Should humans be able to engineer how another human is made and what would this lead to?
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
930
Is intelligence a genetic trait?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: I examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. Genetics plays a part in our intellectual capacity. However, there are many other factors that influence how well we grasp and retain new concepts. Some of those factors include study habits, school attendance and family environment.
Spanish River Community High in FL (11th grade student)
931
How did you know the DNA sequence of two people is 99.9% the same?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. We now routinely sequence tens of thousands of bases of DNA from different individuals. When we compare these sequences between individuals we find that about one base out of thousand are different between two people. This 1/1,000 difference can converted to 99.9% identical.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
932
Why do we clone animals?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. While I am not involved in cloning animals, I could imagine considering (although ethical issues would need to be addressed) the cloning of domestic animals for food production. Cloning animals could also be useful for research purposes.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
933
Spanish River Community High in FL (11th grade student)
934
Will cloning ever be used for us in the future?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: I run the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. If you mean cloning humans, it is my opinion that cloning humans will not be sanctioned by any society, and so, no it will not be acceptable. Several years ago, after Dolly, a sheep was cloned, there was a great deal of discussion about cloning animals. Physicians from the American Medical Association and scientists with the American Association for the Advancement of Science have issued formal public statements advising against human reproductive cloning. The U.S. Congress has considered the passage of legislation that could ban human cloning. There are several kinds of cloning - DNA cloning, (2) reproductive cloning, and (3) therapeutic cloning. You can read about it here: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/cloning.shtml
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
935
Why is DNA in cells?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Well, cells are the units of life and DNA contains the information needed to continue life. From a biochemical perspective the cell, and nucleus, are needed to keep DNA form degrading. Without the protection of the cell, DNA would break-down.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
936
Does it really take 66 trips between Earth and the Sun if you put your molecule end to end?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. I am not sure which molecule in your body you are heard this about but it could be true for your DNA. Each cell in your body contains about 2 meters (six feet) of DNA and you have trillions of cells in your body.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
937
Can Wisconsin fast plants get tuberculosis?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Probably not. The bacterium that causes tuberculosis infects a person's lungs. In probably cannot infect plants. You may have heard that the tuberculosis bacteria are sometimes called "acid fast" bacilli. This is not related to the "fast" in fast plants.
Spanish River Community High in FL (11th grade student)

Information - Moderator Hey west coast! We want more of your questions! Send us some new topics that haven't been seen yet in the chatroom!



Information - Moderator We now have Samir Keleda, who studies genes related to asthma and allergies.


940
What will happen if we clone too much?
     Courtney Nichols, Sc.M.: I am a genetic counselor in the Center for Complex Disease Genomics at Johns Hopkins University. I coordinate a study on the genetics of Hirschsprung disease and play a role in studies of several other complex diseases. Much of the concern comes not about cloning too much but about what we clone and if it is ethical to clone certain animals, like humans. Thinking about very long term effects of cloning too much, when two animals or people have a baby together it creates a new mix of genetic material. If an animal is cloned there is no new mixing of genetic material. The different combinations of genetic material (or genetic variation) made by reproduction help make a species more robust and able to survive different environments or diseases. Survival of the "fittest" mixes of genetic variation is the basis of evolution.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
941
Can you have the same DNA as some stranger?
     Sharon Terry, M.A.: I run the Genetic Alliance, a coalition of over 600 disease specific advocacy organizations working to increase capacity in advocacy organizations and to leverage the voices of the millions of individuals and families affected by genetic conditions. In fact you do! Almost! Your DNA is 99.8% the same as any other human! But there are ways to tell the difference between two people using DNA, which is why it can be used in forensic and paternity cases. You can read more about it here: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/elsi/forensics.shtml
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
942
Did DNA Day really begin in 1990?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. In 2003 Congress designated April 25th "DNA Day" to celebrate the completion of the Human Genome Project and the 50th anniversary of the identification of the structure of DNA. For more information, please see About National DNA Day.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
943
will cloning be available in our liftime
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. In many ways, cloning is already available. A clone is an organism with DNA that is identical to its "parent". Scientists have been able to clone several animals such as mice and sheep. If you are asking if the ability to clone humans will be available in our lifetime, the answer is yes in terms of technology. However, there is still a great deal of question as to whether we SHOULD clone humans. There are important medical, religious, and ethical issues to consider when dealing with the creation of human life. For example, animals that have been cloned tend to have shorter lives, making the idea of cloning a human at this time dangerous. This will surely continue to be a topic of controversy and development.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
944
How many types of animal DNA is there?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. Well, every type of animal has its own kind of DNA sequence, made of As, Ts, Cs, and Gs, but the basic structure of DNA is common to all animals. So in that sense, there's really only kind of animal DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
945
Why don't they let you clone people?
     Della Brown White, Ph.D.: I examining social and cultural factors that may influence participation in genetics research among minority populations. The idea of cloning is very controversial and illegal in some states in the U.S. It is unknown what the societal or health consequences of using scientific technology to clone human beings would be. Additionally, the technology to clone human beings currently does not exist.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
946
What is the gene therapy?
     Larry Brody, Ph.D.: My lab investigates the connection between genetics and diseases related to birth defects and cancer. Gene therapy is a way to replace a gene in a person that lacks a certain gene. So, for example, if a person is born without a functional copy of a lung gene, then their lungs won't work well and they might not survive. In this case, scientists can try to replace that "bad" gene with a good copy. To do that, they inject these new copies of the lung gene into the blood of the person. But it's still a work in progress, and there are many obstacles yet to overcome.
Samar (Higher Education )
947
what is the backbone of the DNA
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. If you think of DNA as a ladder, then the backbone is like the two main sides of the ladder, and it's made up of phosphate molecules. The steps of the ladder are made of the bases A,C,G and T.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
948
How come, if there are only 4 different types of "ladder bars" (letters in the genetic alphabet) so to say in a gene, how can that produce so many different proteins for so many different uses?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Since three letters, or one triplet codon, specify an amino acid, the units of proteins, then there are 64 different codons (4 times 4 times 4). However, there isn't a one-to-one relationship between codons and amino acids; there are only 20 amino acids. Still, since proteins can be thousands of amino acids long, there are a LOT of amino acid combinations. Imagine a protein that is only 100 amino acids long. That still works out to be 20 times 20 times 20 times 20 times 20...do that 100 times. That's 20 to the power of 100.
Wantagh High School in NY (10th grade student)
950
Can you genetically modify a firefly to change the color of its light?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. That might be possible. I'm not sure if you can genetically modify fireflies, but it has been done in other organisms. One scientist actually took a fluorescent protein from jellyfish and put it into a rabbit. That rabbit actually glowed in the dark! So generally these things are possible, but I am not yet sure if it's been done in fireflies yet.
Spanish River Community High in FL (11th grade student)
951
Samir Keleda, is asthma genetic?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. Great question! Asthma definitely has a genetic component, but it's not all genetic. Environmental factors, like exposure to dust mites or air pollution, are important too. Even more interestingly, the environmental factors and genetic factors interact. So some people might have genetic risk factors but not be exposed to things in the environment that will trigger asthma; on the other hand, some people might be exposed but not have the genetic risk factors, and some people might have both. All of those combinations are possible and important.
Spanish River Community High in FL (11th grade student)
952
What are stem cells? What do you think of cloning? What is sickle cell anemia?
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. Most of the cells in our body have specific shapes, sizes and functions. A skin cell is quite different than a nerve cell or a muscle cell. These differences are determined by "switches" in the DNA being turned off and on very early in development. A skin cell can never become a muscle cell because those genes are no longer turned on. Stem cells actually have the ability to become any type of cell because they have not gone through differentiation (the DNA switches have not been turned off). Because of this, stem cells can play a role in treating disease, facilitating organ transplants, and testing new drugs. Not all stem cells come from embryos. Adults do have some stem cells which have SOME of the DNA switches turned off but still yield great potential. In many ways, cloning is already available. A clone is an organism with DNA that is identical to its "parent". Scientists have been able to clone several animals such as mice and sheep. If you are asking if the ability to clone humans will be available in our lifetime, the answer is yes in terms of technology. However, there is still a great deal of question as to whether we SHOULD clone humans. There are important medical, religious, and ethical issues to consider when dealing with the creation of human life. For example, animals that have been cloned tend to have shorter lives, making the idea of cloning a human at this time dangerous. This will surely continue to be a topic of controversy and development. Sickle Cell Anemia is a blood disease that is inherited genetically. Sickle cell anemia affects the red blood cells of the body. Normal red blood cells are flexible, round, and most importantly, are able to carry oxygen through your bloodstream. When you take a breath, red blood cells pick up blood from your lungs and zoom through your body to deliver it where it is needed. People with sickle cell anemia have some red blood cells that cant pick up or deliver the oxygen. These red blood cells are also stiff and change back and forth between their usual round shape and a crescent moon, banana-like shape. This shape is also called sickle. Sickle cell anemia is more common among African Americans. People with sickle cell anemia have it for their whole lives, but with improving screening and treatment, their quality and length of life continues to improve.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
953
What are some creative ways that people have celebrated DNA day?
     Vence Bonham, J.D.: My area of expertise is focused on the ethical, legal, social and policy implications of genomic discoveries, particularly health professionals' and lay persons' understanding of race, ethnicity and genetics. The National Human Genome Research Institute in collaboration with its partners this year had a facebook site to provide an opportunity and students to discuss creative ways to celebrate DNA Day. A couple of years ago we worked with students that used modern dance to learn genetic concepts. What are you doing to celebrate?
Spanish River Community High Samantha Klasfeld in FL (11th grade student)
954
How long did it take scientists to discover the connection between mRNA and amino acids during protein synthesis?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Marshall Warren Nirenberg started work connecting DNA/RNA codons to amino acids in 1959. The experiment (the Nirenberg and Matthaei experiment) that cracked the genetic code by using nucleic acid homopolymers to translate specific amino acids was conducted in 1961. In 1968, the Nobel prize was awarded for this ground-breaking work.
Lexington High School in SC (10th grade student)
955
How was DNA discovered?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. Friedrich Miescher isolates DNA for the first time in 1869. Miescher, a Swiss scientist, wanted to study the chemistry of cells. He chose to study white blood cells, which are abundant in pus, and were abundantly available to him in bandages from a hospital near his university. Miescher isolated a material rich in phosphorus from the cells and called it nuclein. He found nuclein in other types of cells as well, including salmon sperm. In the early 1900s, other scientists began to describe the chemical properties of DNA in much more detail.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
956
Is there any specific reason why mutations happen?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Biochemically, DNA is just vulnerable to changes. From a evolutionary biology point of view, mutations are useful, in that the genetic variation that is generated by mutations serves as a source of potentially advantageous traits.
AJ Lucatino in CT (10th grade student)
957
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
958
Is there a risk associated with genetic therapy?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. Yes, indeed there is. There have been cases in which injecting the DNA into people has caused serious, adverse reactions, even death. If the body's immune system responds to the new DNA in a bad way, then the person can get really sick. So naturally doctors try to prevent this from happening, but it can be hard to do.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
959
Why did Mendel study peapods?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Pea pods are very easily manipulated and they grow very fast. For these reasons they worked well for Gregor Mendel, who was looking at genetic changes over multiple generations.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
960
Can you make a monster in your laboratory?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. You mean, like Frankenstein?! Well, I doubt it. You can change animals by adding new genes to their genomes. And this new animal will be different as a result. We do that in the lab to test the function of certain genes. But adding just a single gene isn't enough to create a true monster.
Geoffro in MD (Higher Education )
961
Have stem cells been used to treat anything else besides mice?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Yes, stem cells have been used to treat dogs, cats, rats, frogs and probably many other animals.
Spanish River Community High in FL (11th grade student)
962
how many dna strands are in the human body
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. Our DNA is organized into 22 pairs of chromosomes, plus two sex chromosomes. This makes 46 chromosomes altogether. Each chromosome is numbered 1 through 22, X, and Y. So, there are two of chromosome #1, two of chromosome #2, etc. Each chromosome contains a double stranded DNA molecule. All the DNA in chromosomes is made up of subunits called base pairs. In chromosome #1 alone there are 220 million base pairs!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
963
How are DNA samples collected?
     Courtney Nichols, Sc.M.: I am a genetic counselor in the Center for Complex Disease Genomics at Johns Hopkins University. I coordinate a study on the genetics of Hirschsprung disease and play a role in studies of several other complex diseases. DNA samples can be collected from anything that contains cells from an animal. For medical genetic testing we most often get DNA from a persons blood or skin cells scraped from the inside of their cheek. DNA from crime scenes can be taken from very small samples of a body fluid or hair. When scientists collect DNA from animals they can use any tissue from the body. The DNA molecules are then separated and purified.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
964
How much does it cost to clone a dog?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. Lots of money!! I don't know for sure, but probably more than $20,000. If you want a dog, how about going to the pound (humane society) and adopting one. They need nice homes!
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
965
what is the rarest hair colors
     Stephanie Kramer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor who works with pregnant patients to determine risks to their offspring and testing options. I also am involed with cancer genetic counseling meeting with families with a history of cancer and reviewing genetic testing options available to them. There are several genes that determine hair color. Darker colors (brown and black) tend to be dominant and more common. The most rare hair color is actually no color at all (albinism).
Pennsville Memorial High School in NJ (10th grade student)
966
is it possible to repair dna that has pieces missing?
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. At this time, we are not able to fix human DNA that contains mistakes or deletions. DNA is in every cell of our body, and therefore the mistake is in every cell. Currently, we try to treat the outcome of the missing DNA by supplementing the missing product and responding to other symptoms.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
967
if you clone a virus will it still have the same effect as a real virus
     Sandy Woo, M.S.: I provide information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders, and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. I assess risks, facilitate decison making, and educate families on said defect or condition. Viruses are tiny, infectious agents that cannot live or reproduce outside a host cell. Labs often employ cloned viruses for research consistency so the brief answer to your question, is yes, the effect is expected to be the same.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
968
Have there been any new human DNA discoverys?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. Once recent discovery identified a gene that suppresses tumor growth in melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. There are many, frequent genetic discoveries. I encourage you to watch my institute's on-line Newsroom http://www.genome.gov/Media/ for the latest information.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
969
If you die, how can you preserve your DNA?
     Courtney Nichols, Sc.M.: I am a genetic counselor in the Center for Complex Disease Genomics at Johns Hopkins University. I coordinate a study on the genetics of Hirschsprung disease and play a role in studies of several other complex diseases. Some of our DNA is preseved inside our tissues, like our bones, when we die. Scientists have actually gotten DNA out of animals that have been dead for hundreds or thousands of years! But, it is difficult to get DNA that way and it is hard to get very much DNA. If someone who is still living wants to preserve their DNA for after they die, they can put a sample of their DNA in a DNA bank. DNA banks are companies that you or your family can pay to store and preserve your DNA.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
970
How many genes are associated with asthma?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. Many! More than 20 genes associated with asthma have been found. But, the importance of each gene is pretty small, and the effect of each gene is also highly dependent on whether or not a person is exposed to certain environmental factors, like house dust or air pollution.
The School of Rock (10th grade )
971
What is RNA Interference?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. RNA interference is the process by which RNA molecules (rather than proteins) bind to DNA and control the expression (production of proteins) of genes.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (10th grade student)
972
Do they have prenatal testing for nonketotic hyperglycinemia
     Sandy Woo, M.S.: I provide information and support to families who have members with birth defects or genetic disorders, and to families who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions. I assess risks, facilitate decison making, and educate families on said defect or condition. Yes, prenatal testing is available but it is not routinely available to everyone. Nonketotic hyperclycinemia is an autosomal recessive inborn error of metabolism so there would have to be a family history of it first before doing prenatal testing.
Wantagh High School in NY ()
973
dolly was the first cloned sheep,why a sheep?
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. A sheep was probably the ideal candidate for the first cloning for several reasons. Sheep are mammals, just like humans, so it would be a helpful way learn more about how cloning MAMMALS might be different than other types of animals. Another factor may have been the length of time the sheep are pregnant. And it also might have been because Dolly was the first SUCCESSFUL cloned mammal and it just happened to be the species that group of scientists was working with. It is possible other groups of scientists were using other mammals such as mice. Hope this helps.
Palms Middle School in CA (7th grade student)
974
Do you know some of the animals we have cloned so far?
     Samir Kelada, Ph.D., M.P.H.: I conduct research on the genetics of asthma. That's a fun question. The answer really depends on how you define "clone." In the lab, some animals have been cloned, like sheep and dogs. What that means is that the genome of a dog was copied and used to make another dog. But what's more often done is that a certain kind of animal, like a mouse, has been inbred (brothers and sisters mated together repeatedly over many generations) so much that all the offspring of the mouse are identical to that parent mouse. That's a different kind of cloning.
Bednarcik Junior High School in IL (8th grade student)
975
When RNA leaves the nucleus to go into the cytoplasm, is the nucleus temporarily open in some way? If so, if it vulnerable to damage?
     Kris Wetterstrand, M.S.: I work on the Large-scale Sequencing Program, which managed the Human Genome Project, and the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to sequence the DNA of microbes (e.g. bacteria) that live in and on humans. RNA leaves the nucleus through nuclear pores (complexes made up of proteins) in the nuclear membrane. There are also protein factors that help and protect the RNA through the pore in the membrane.
Stuart ()
976
If it is possible to clone someone, would that person have the same personality, thoughts, and memories?
     Carrie Heuer, M.S.: I am a genetic counselor in Memphis, TN. I work with individuals who have family histories of cancer and also with high risk women during pregnancy. That is a very interesting question. A human clone would have identical DNA, but not identical experiences. Both our environment and our genes shape our personality. For example, identical twins share the same DNA. There are studies of identical twins separated at birth that show they are more alike than brothers and sisters who have different DNA. However, when they live in different environments and experience different memories, they became unique individuals. The same could be said for clones.
Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall School in CA (9th grade student)

Information - Moderator OK Chatters, The DNA Day Chat Room is shutting down for 2009. You all did great. We enjoyed answering as many of your questions as we could. Be sure to read through the transcript and see how your fellow students across the nation and across the world have done. Until next year. Happy DNA Day.



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Posted: April 24, 2009